Why do you drink wine?
People have been drinking vino for thousands of years and for fabulously varied reasons. Some drink wine to appreciate culture and history. Some use wine's classy persona to mask their alcoholism. Others drink it to forget that they are living in their parents' basement (more on that later . . . ), and still others drink it to complement food.
The foodie crowd has long appreciated the relationship between wine and food, with its complicated disagreements, occasional perfect unions, and long search for the ultimate marriage of flavor and texture. When we were approached by Serena Pelowski to do a pairing with Angie's Kettle Corn and Carmel Corn, we were psyched. As most of our friends know, there are very few people on the planet who eat more popcorn than we do. Not kidding.
So, we sat down in our temporary digs in Nick's parents basement (our new apartment is still under construction) with two white wine glasses, a bowl of Angie's Kettle Corn, a bowl of Angie's Carmel Corn, a bottle of Beaulieu Vineyard's 2008 Carneros Chardonnay, and a copy of Arcade Fire's "The Subrubs" album.
There were so many fascets to our tasting tonight! Not only did we have to critique our audio/vino experience, we also had to pair the two types of popcorn with the vino!
Remember the "new kid in class"? The kid that got up in front of everyone and told them that they had just moved here last summer 'cause their dad got a new job? "The Suburbs" by Arcade Fire reminds me of the constantly-moving kid. Track one "The Suburbs" will make you think of riding your bike to a friends house on a hot summer day, with nothing to worry about except for getting home on time. Tracks three and four take on an industrial feel (the point when the kid moves to the city and is trying to fit in at PS 101). Track five "Rococco" has a cool coo-coo part and ends with some industrial power. This mixes into some ethereal strings in track six and this ethereal sound comes back in track eight "Half Light II". This is the point when the kid moves to the country. The kid gets along fine in the Suburbs and the City, but what about the country? He must have done alright, because the ethereal sounds where some of my favorite parts on this album. My favorite song is track ten "Month of May" which has a spooky, driven, 80's-esque sound.
Everyone probably knows about the "anything but Chardonnay" movement. It started before I became involved in the wine industry and before I even began enjoying wine. Now, I think that we are starting to reach the end of this attitude, but we are going to need some decent three-dimensional chardonnays to get there. Unfortunately, BV Carneros Chard isn't very three-dimensional. This wine has gotten some decent reviews in past vintages and I would probably be willing to try this wine again someday. However the '08 tasted as if someone glued some candy corn to a two by four and shoved it down my throat. Flabbier than my high school drivers' ed teacher, I was yearning for some acidity . . . any acidity . . . even a blip of acidity. The nose had some nice honeydew, vanilla, peach and nutmeg, but it also smelled of cigarellos dipped in peach flavoring.
The saving grace of this experience was Angie's Kettle Corn. I paired the Chard with some of Angie's Caramel Corn. This caramel corn is made just the way I like it, lightly covered yet packed with caramel flavor. We're not talking cracker jacks kettle corn that causes your back molars to stick together. No sir, this is light and airy and to top it off it's delicious with chardonnay. The best part of this experience was that the kettle corn saved the chardonnay. Nobody is happy to open up a bottle of $20-30 chardonnay only to have three sips and dump it out. The kettle corn added dimension to the chardonnay and kept me coming back, crunch, sip, crunch, sip, this is a pairing I will definitely be trying again and soon.
So even if this chardonnay never reached that third dimension, I want you to forget about the "anything but chardonnay" mentality. Pick up that bottle of Chardonnay that you have been eyeing up but were afraid to purchase because of the sneers of clerks and peers! Pick up some Angie's Kettle Corn to enjoy with it, because I guarantee you will have a new found respect for Chardonnay once you give this pairing a try!
Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs" managed to be both refreshing and disappointing. In the end, I really enjoyed the album . . . but I was hoping to enjoy it a little more based on the recommendations of some friends.
The marriage of etherealism and industrialism was interesting and managed to give the album an edge. The way that these two themes played off one another was well-done and not at all repetitive, and and really reflected the marriage of country and city (hence - the Suburbs).
Usually, albums begin interestingly and move into repetitiveness and pure boredom. Not so for The Suburbs, which impressed me more and more as the album went on. The title track wasn't much to write home about (although it provided a great backdrop for the personality of the album), and the second track, "Ready to Start," was pretty unimaginitive, despite it's 80's-pop sound and departure from the first track. As the album went on, though, the contrasts between the industrial and the ethereal kept me intrigued, and Half Light II (a futuristic and haunting canon) really sucked me in.
My biggest complaint? Every song on the album ran together, which can potentially give an album a very unified and artistic tone. In this case, the album grew stagnant. Relying on interesting syncopations to give dimension to the album, Arcade Fire neglected to give us any variation on the tempo! That's right - despite some interesting rhythms, the tempo of the album was flat, constant, and droning. Constant tempos throughout a modern album are hardly a way to get the listener's blood pumping.
-Britney Spears post-Kevin Federline
-the contents of a plastic surgeon's garbage can
Seriously, this wine was really disappointing. Even as a novice, I was able to figure out what this wine was missing (acidity). We both found peach, vanilla, and even a bit of melon on the nose, but as we went to try the wine we both tasted two things: candy corn and sugar.
We tasted both the Kettle Corn and the Carmel Corn with the Chardonnay. The popcorn was fabulous - the wine, sadly, was not. When we tried the Kettle Corn, we realized that it didn't find a great compliment in the wine, mainly because they tasted so similar. The Carmel Corn, however, complimented the wine fabulously. The buttery, sweet carmel brought out the hint of nutmeg in the wine and gave it an ever-so-small sliver of dimension. I would love to try this Carmel Corn again with a better wine.