The True Test of A Burgundy Lover

Village de la Côte de Beaune : Saint-Romain dans la brume. Photo: BIVB / JOLY M.
Village de la Côte de Beaune : Saint-Romain dans la brume. Photo: BIVB / JOLY M.

It was Kermit Lynch who wisely proffered the following edict many years ago 1Try as hard as I may, I can’t find the exact reference, but believe it was somewhere in Inspiring Thirst.: “Get to know a producer through their Bourgogne; purchase a case”.

Great advice. A case of Bourgogne lets you see how a wine behaves differently in reaction to different foods and seasons, and becomes an inexpensive gateway to a producer’s style.

Honestly, I would even take this further, and say that you simply cannot pretend to love Burgundy if you don’t regularly drink Bourgogne.

It holds true for other noble wine regions as well: German estate Riesling, or Langhe rosso in Piedmont. Perhaps less so in places like Bordeaux, where a ‘second wine’ is too often a disappointment.

This is not about shaming wealthy people, nor is this a reaction to hordes of Internet braggarts posting photos of grand cru bottles for others to covet — it goes deeper than that.

It’s about loving all that Burgundy has to offer, and respecting the wine by recognizing that different wines work at different moments.

mr burns drinking
Will they ever bring me my spaghetti? This Bonnes Mares is getting warm.

Even if I were wealthy enough to buy a new house once mine became too dirty, I’d still drink great Bourgogne. You simply can’t (Click to Read more)

On the Value of Wine Criticism: a Conversation with the Blind

Let’s admit it, there are a lot of wine words that raise eyebrows.

The esoteric jargon leaps to mind: “This wine has lift. Excellent palate tension”. “A laser-like focus”. “This wine is rather foursquare”. “Très nerveux”, quoth the French wine critic, often when sampling a dry white wine they like. Can a wine be nervous?

Then there is the dauntingly precise collection of fruits, flowers, and other non-edible aromatic descriptors in tasting notes.

  • Sous bois, or mushrooms.
  • Stones.
  • Latex or Band-Aids.
  • Violets.
  • Saddle leather.
  • Barnyard (or manure).
  • Stalky.
  • White pepper.
  • Pine.
  • Mint.
  • Green bell pepper.
  • Mimosa.
  • Honeysuckle.
  • Geranium.
  • Cat pee.
  • Red currant.
  • Wet dog.
  • Toasty.
  • Tar.
  • Soapy.
  • Nail polish.
  • Apples.
  • Corn.
  • Lactic.
  • Orange blossom.
  • Mousy.
  • Cranberries.
  • Brioche.
  • Bubblegum.
  • Egg.
  • Cheese.
  • Lemon.
  • Magnolia.
  • Lime.
  • Cherries.
  • Apricot.
  • Toffee.
  • Pear.
  • Plums.
  • Peaches.
  • Tobacco.
  • Lychee.
  • Cedar.
  • Petrol.


And finally, there’s the troubling lack of consensus between critics regarding exact descriptors for the same wine. What one critic might consider to be a “full” wine with “bilberry, truffle and red currant”, another critic might dub “angular yet fresh with a core of Alpine strawberries”.

If the critics can’t even agree, what’s it all worth? How can it be right?

Deep breath: I vehemently defend these practices and descriptive tools. And, I’ve had it with the parade of Philistines (Click to Read more)

This Dish Works with Every Wine

Rather than gleefully imagine the WORST wine pairing in the world (after much drunken discussion,  Muscat and spaghetti with red sauce took the prize), honestly, I can’t think of a wine that wouldn’t work with this dish.

Leave it to the magical animal that is the pig to have borne such a blessed thing unto the world. The pork tenderloin is quite simply the Swiss Army knife of wine pairing: I dare you to find a wine which will not work with it.  The humble pork tenderloin is always there for you. It’s easy to cook and affordable, rendering it an even better friend.

Finding good, fresh pork tenderloin can be a challenge, however. As one might expect, Trader Joe’s is hit or miss, and I suspect this may have to do with their cold chain (often their expiration dates seem the stuff of fantasy, and a sour greenish odor awaits you upon opening the CryoVac well before the best by date). Any other number of stores’ CryoVac’d tenderloins similarly seem to sit for too long. Out here in NYC, Citarella seems to be a worthwhile step up.

Here’s the base recipe along with two different embellishments which allow you to “determine” the dish aromatically, adding layers that will act as bridge elements to a red or white. In a nutshell, it’s pork tenderloin with grain mustard and panko crust  = red, or, pork tenderloin with marmalade, ginger, honey sauce = white. Honestly, though, if you’re in a rush, you could just brown and then roast the tenderloin, skip the embellishments, and you’d still be just fine. But it wouldn’t be as magical — 80% less oohs and ahs at the dinner table. (Click to Read more)