Monday, February 4, 2008

How many grapes does it take to make a bottle of your favorite wine?

This weekend Fletcher and I decided to make a meal that would pair well with the wine I had given him for his birthday. This wine happens to be the most expensive wine that I have ever purchased. Can you guess how much I paid? Well regardless of the actual price (you can cheat and scroll to the bottom if you're really dying to know), imagine the most expensive wine you have ever purchased or would purchase. For some of you that price may be a multiple of what I paid, for others, a fraction. What would you want to pair with that wine? We decided on something luxurious. Filet Mignon.

We had debated going to a specialty butcher shop, but we ended up at Citeralla, a gourmet grocery store where you can get a myriad of delicacies, but practically nothing that comes in a can, a box or anything usually found in the "frozen entree" section. Citeralla gave us two choices for our filets. We opted to get one piece of the very expensive grass fed Australian filet and another piece of the exorbitantly priced dry aged domestic filet. We took the little packages of meat home, gave them a good salt and pepper rub and then seared them on our special cast-iron grill pan. The room (otherwise known as our entire apartment) filled with smoke and delicious meat aromas. And we were once again reminded that we don't have a smoke alarm (don't worry Mom and Dad, I'm working on it this week).

The meat was cooked perfectly . The Australian filet was delicious, but the aged filet was the star. As we drank our magnificent wine and ate our tender morsels of meat I couldn't help but think about the fact that not only was I eating delicious filet mignon for dinner, but that I actually had two cows from two different continents on the same plate. This got me to think about how out of touch I am (we are) with where our food comes from and how it gets to us. Did you know that your Avocado could be from California, Mexico, the Dominican Republic or New Zealand?

Then I started to think about the wine in my glass. I knew it was from Italy - Valpolicella in fact. I knew that the grapes that made the wine were Corvina. I knew that the grapes were picked in 2002. I could infer the basic wine making techniques that were used to create this delicious juice, but I didn't really know what it took to make this fine wine.

It turns out that it takes between 600 and 800 grapes to make a bottle of wine. There are about 75 grapes to a cluster and a single grapevine can produce up to 40 clusters. Therefore, a single grape vine can potentially generate the equivalent of 5 bottles of wine.

So back to the very special wine... made from 9 or 10 clusters of very special grapes.
Tasting Notes:

2002 Marion Valpolicella Superiore. There was a clarity and silky lightness to the wine that made the intensity of the flavors quite surprising. At first I got a subtle hint of tar, but it faded away quickly into dark dried fruit. The sweetness of the fruit was not masked by the usual burn of alcohol. 800 grapes and 39.99 worth of deliciousness.

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