Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Ode to the Apparatus

A few days I caught the tail end of Napa Style on the "Fine Living Channel." Michael Chiarello was interviewing Bob Trinchero, who is credited with developing the original White Zinfandel in the 1970's at Sutter Home Winery. He was originally just trying to make a better version of the Winery's red Zinfandel but ended up with a pink concoction. White Zinfandels, and most other roses, are made from red skinned grapes. The skin is left in the fermentation tanks for only a small amount of time (usually only a few hours) so that only a little bit of the color from the skin seeps into the juice. The original White Zinfandel was actually quite dry, but was made sweeter to please the American palate.
Michael Chiarello and Bob Trinchero talked about how the Sutter Home White Zinfandel made wine accessible to mainstream America. It bridged the gap between soda pop and the bone dry wines of the Old World. Mr. Trinchero commented on the "intimidation factor" of wine. He made the point that wine is one of the only beverages requiring the consumer to actually go out and purchase a tool in order to open. Most beverages can be opened with a simple twist, pop or poke of a straw - not a very complicated or intimidating feat (let's not go into beer bottles or the new screw cap wine top for now).
Yet opening a bottle of wine can be quite a complex task. I've opened many bottles but on occasion I still find myself with the bottle between my knees and a red face from wrestling with the cork. I've also broken the cork in half, chipped the glass lip of the bottle and almost been brought to tears of frustration.
When I moved into my current apartment and realized that I did not have a single drawer for utensils in my "kitchen," I decided to economize and buy the smallest wine opener I could find. I settled on the simple "waiter" wine opener. It served two purposes: space saver and fine dining server practice (an indispensable skill in the city). I have come to appreciate this tool and its simplicity. However, I will admit that I do have a very nice Rabbit Corkscrew waiting for when I upgrade to at least that 1 drawer apartment.

If you would like to read the full article on the creation of White Zinfandel click here.


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