Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review of Bottles in Boston, 150 Posts and a New Blog Project

This is our 150th post in less than 2 years, and number 90 this year. Two years ago I would have laughed it you had told I would be writing this. Things change, just not always they way we would predict!

I didn't have my good camera today. I apologize for the camera phone shots. Whatever did we do with less technology?

I dropped in at the Bottles Wine & Beer shop today in the North End of Boston. I had been looking through some Boston wine websites and saw info on the Second Glass 2nd Annual Wine Guide, and that they might have it available at Bottles a short walk from my office. What a cool place! Purveyors of both wines and beers, this place can fulfill many food and beverage pairing dreams. Peter emerged from the back and asked how I was and if there was anything he could help with. I explained what had drawn me there and he said he didn't think they had any of the wine guides left, but I was in luck because I had could have his copy complete with a "Hello My Name Is" sticker on the front. I explained I could pick up a copy online, but Peter insisted. Awesome service for sure.

I asked what the model was for the store and he explained that they try to sell less commercialized and less processed/handled products. Music to my ears! I explained my background and focus on food pairing using both wines and beers. We talked a bit about some of the esoteric questions I have seen that will show up on the sommelier exams, an example "name one sub-region of larger wine region X", and what the knowledge was that was really being expected. It is true that learning the culture and winemaking history of the regions is the point, but the question is not asked that way; and trust me I have seen study group notes that specifically say that the Level 1 exam has questions like that on it.

I looked around a bit and Peter pointed out an interesting selection that I ended up going home with. The story with the Falernia Pedro Ximenez 2009 is that it is made from a red grape typically used for sherry in Spain, vinified white, in Chile by an Italian guy who used his home area in the name of the wine. Did you get all that? I'll let you know how the wine is, but more on that later. The beer selection is equally interesting with large format (22 oz/750 ml) offerings from DogFish Head, Brew God, Unibroue, Brooklyn Brewery, Rogue and many others. I'll be back for my pairing needs.

So as I walked back to the office I got to thinking more about the conversation I had with Peter at Bottles. I know what the background knowledge is that I want to learn about the winemaking regions of the world, but what is the best way to fit that into my current blogging activities. An answer came quickly. The Ancient Fire World Winemaking Region Tour will be kicking off shortly, and the first region we will visit (virtually of course!) will be Ribera del Duero in Spain. Margot and I will be researching each selected region to learn the history, culture, winemaking origins and cuisine. We will then re-create a meal and select a wine from that region to pair with the meal. To finish it off we will share our research and pairing experience with you. Expect the report on the Falernia wine when we get to Chile and its winemaking regions.

I have already ordered wines to get us well underway (thank you wine.com for having excellent deals on good wines and 1 cent shipping if I bought 12 bottles or more) and we expect to profile two regions per month. Research and planning will take some time for each, and we will inevitably run into the need to source ingredients to cook with that might not be easy to find where we normally shop. This project will help me better understand the wine regions around the world leaving the geographic memorization for a cramming exercise right before the exam. Having substance behind the regional information will prove to be a huge asset for sure.

The decision to train to be a sommelier was based on a new life strategy to be more open to opportunities as they come along and grab on when they do. This new mindset is working out incredibly well and I am very excited about the experiences I am having as a part of it.



p.s. Right before I headed into the office I noticed Clover was busy again. Love that place!


Lisa | Authentic Suburban Gourmet said...

Great project that you are under taking. I look forward to the posts and conversations! Being from California and then just taking that "Thinking, Eating & Drinking" class for 6 weeks, I learned so much about wines from around the world. An endless journey of learning and so fun along the way!

Winelady Cooks said...

Hi Jason,

Love your idea for your new project. Drinking and studying your way to sommelier can be quite a challenge with a full time job but it looks like you are well on your way and making it fun.

I look forward to reading your posts.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great adventure for you both...thank you for sharing it with all of us. Looking forward to your findings in regards to food. Could you tell me more about Clover? Looks neat:)

Kate said...

Love the quest! I actually asked you if you'd like another quest in my blog to be published on Friday - Limoncello and Gin Cocktails with Grilled Thyme. So, last time we came out to the Cape and hiked to Boston for dinner we had dinner at an incredible place next to the Revere house... Can't remember the name but had some kind of ravioli with a sage brown butter that was to die for. Cheers, Kate (kateiscooking.blogspot.com)

Jason Phelps said...

I saw your comment on my recent blog posting. Had you already sent me a note about a challenge or was this new? What is it exactly?

As for the ravioli, I beleive you might have gone to Carmen. They are right near the Revere house and have a menu item that looks to fit the description. http://www.carmenboston.com/cuisine.html


Rob Crozier said...

Sounds like a road trip worthy Store you have near you, as I've been looking for a place with a good Beer selection.

Bravo on your quest, sounds like quite a fun & educational time to be had! Looking forward to reading about your Wine & Culinary experiences!