I’m really trying to get the hang of this blogging thing. Went to a big tasting yesterday – Provence in the City – table upon table of jewel-like bottles of fresh rosy vins, with representatives at the ready to espouse as well as pour… Doing my best to poast at blogger’s speed, and yet, here I sit, more than 24 hours later, trying to muster up some passion. To paraphrase a song from A Chorus Line, “I feel nothing… I feel nothing…”

It wasn’t the wines’ fault. I tasted maybe a third of them. Enough to sense correctness; the wines as a group were fresh, clean, pure, mildly fruity and more than ready to take on the fig- and olive-centric array of edibles on hand at, conveniently enough, Fig & Olive restaurant in the meatpacking district. But there was something missing…

…it’s called sum-sum-sum-sum-sum-sum-summertime. Rosé for me, and I suspect many others, is a seasonal tipple. Can’t wrap my palate around these pale-pink Provencal sirens quite yet. I am, however, glad I went. Three reasons:

  1. The troop on hand from France confirmed that rosé is red-hot. From March 2008 through March 2009, while total U.S. wine consumption was up 6%, dry rosé imbibing was up nearly 24%; and imported rosés jumped 43%. Hey, it’s about time we caught on; they’ve only been making dry rosés since, oh, 26 centuries ago. Yes, that’s centuries; I’d guess most American wineries aren’t even 26 years old.
  2. Things are looking up in the impending showdown between France and the EU over a recent proposal to allow blends of white and red wine to be called {gasp} rosé. The Provence Wine Council (CIVP) confirmed yesterday that Italy had officially pledged to support France on the issue in EU deliberations. {With clout like that, the Scandanavian bloc is sure to follow!} Seriously, let’s hope the keepers of the flame manage to keep rosé exactly what it is, namely wine turned pink by skin contact—not by splashing some red into white wine—and vinified dry as summer days are long. In feeding and lubricating writers, bloggers and other tradefolk yesterday in Manhattan, CIVP was preaching to the choir. Still, the bone-dry message deserves to be tweeted far and wide: unlike in art class, white + red may be pink, but it is not rosé.
  3. Last but not least, I am glad I went and learned not only that the impending wave of 2008 rosés are consistently true to type {just add sunshine,}but I also tagged a few favorites. First is Saint-Tropez Cuvée Cep d’Or 2008, with a totally sensuous traditional Provence bouteille and come-hither $13.99 retail price; it even comes in magnum, “for those crazy weekends,” said importer/distributor Jérome Schmeitz of http://jeromeselection.com. Also liked the $16 Chateau de Rouët 2008. And I had plenty of wine-peer company in nodding enthusiastically at the lineup from Saint Andre de Figuière, including fresh, easy 2008 “Magali,” the beefier 2008 Vieilles Vignes, and the tres serious 2008 “Confidentielle” which is good enough and expensive enough ($48) to make you wish this recession would go away, like, by July. Check out the site { here }; imported by http://frankjohnsonselections.com.

So there you have it; that’s all I got, until outdoor drinking commences in a few weeks. Until then, in honor of these authentic, food-friendly dry rosés—and to fulfill my blog header’s promise of comedy along with the commentary—here is a flashback to April Fools Day 2004… the day I personally {almost} engineered the sanctification of the longstanding relationship beween food and wine, starring the dry pink stuff…



Wine & Food Finally Get Hitched—Or Do They?  


After a bizarre turn of events in San Francisco, the national debate over marriage has taken a tasty new twist.


The stunning incident began when W. R. Tish, a New York-based epicurean writer and speaker, flew to San Francisco to obtain a marriage license that would enable wine and food to exchange vows. “These tablemates have been in a committed, loving relationship since B.C.,” Tish said. “It’s time to sanctify their union. Plus, they deserve a nice honeymoon.”


Tish arrived at City Hall wearing a tuxedo and carrying a dome-topped silver tray and a bottle in a black velvet sack. He declined to identify the bride and groom, claiming secrecy would prevent interference from gastro-political opponents. “There are people out there who think it’s fine for food to cohabit with food, but they want to keep wine and food apart,” Tish explained. “Personally, I have nothing against victuals hooking up, but really, peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, even green eggs and ham—been there, ate that.”


If the sight of a tux-clad man sitting alone in the pre-nuptial area of San Francisco’s City Hall wasn’t enough to attract attention, the savory aroma escaping from the silver platter certainly was. A crowd of curious observers grew to about 50 by 1:00 p.m., bolstered by employees on their lunch break.


When number 88 was called, the fortyish New Yorker stood and approached the clerk. He lifted the dome, exposing a ragout of brilliant green, red and purple vegetables. Then he peeled off the sack, revealing a bottle of Côtes de Provence rosé. Against a backdrop of ooohs and ahhhs, Tish declared to the clerk on duty: “I would like a marriage license to wed this rosé wine to this plate of ratatouille.”


“Rata-whatty?” replied Roberta Moldavi, who has worked in the City Clerk’s office for 23 years. “Are you crazy? We’re having enough trouble marrying people in this office. No way the mayor’s gonna go for this.”


“Au contraire!” Tish responded. “Mayor Newsom would understand perfectly. Being vegetarian, ratatouille is lighter than most meat, chicken or fish dishes, so it calls for a lighter wine. Dry rosé is the perfect spouse—crisp and lively with mild flavors that won’t overwhelm the mix of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and onion.”


But before the dumbfounded clerk could respond, a loud “Wait!” echoed through the room. Out from the circle of onlookers squeezed a couple—of undetermined gender-who identified themselves only as Pat and Chris.


Pat continued, “With all due respect, I think the rosé belongs with Salade Nicoise more than ratatouille.”


Against a collective gasp, Tish turned to face the couple. “Nicoise salad, eh?” he wondered aloud. “Hmm, olives, tuna, capers, tomatoes, little anchovy…with the rosé… sounds pretty tasty.”


Murmurs rippled through the crowd. “And the ratatouille smells a bit on the spicy side,” added Chris. “I think it could use a red wine…like a Santa Barbara Pinot Noir.”


The murmurs grew louder, punctuated by interjections. “What about salmon?”…”How about some nice cheese?”…”Is somebody going to open that bottle already?”


In a carpe-diem moment, Tish jumped atop a bench and banged the silver dome with a Rabbit corkscrew he had somehow snuck through the building’s metal detector. He declared, “Wine-loving foodies of San Francisco, how foolish of me to think I could marry a single wine to a single food. Thanks to Pat and Chris, it’s clear that food and wine are destined to enjoy multiple partners. In that spirit, I invite all wines and foods that would like to bond in marital bliss to join the wedding party.”


Cell phones all over the room snapped into action while Roberta Moldavi slipped out a side door, shaking her head, “Wait ’til the Mayor gets wind of this….” Before long, a parade of delivery people arrived at City Hall, toting signature dishes from all over the Bay. There was tuna tartare from Aqua, gougères from Bay Bread, and foie gras ten ways from Campton Place. Zuni’s roast chicken arrived; so did inside-out gnocchi from Scala’s and french fries in goose fat from Town Hall. There was Boulevard’s pork chop and Slanted Door’s shaking beef; meatloaf from Lark Creek Inn and moussaka from Kokkari. There was pizza haute (Postrio’s salmon-crème fraiche) and pizza humble (Tommaso’s); and an entire cheese cart from Gary Danko.


In marched the wine as well-from Amphora, K&L, Coit Liquors, Plumpjack, Wine Club and The Jug Shop. The Rabbit corkscrew went to work, releasing a rainbow of Cabernet, Riesling, Merlot, Zinfandels, Bordeaux, Barolo, Shiraz and more. Plastic cups and utensils and paper plates were rushed over from 7-Eleven.


Pat, Chris and Tish began pairing up wines and foods, carefully listing the respective brides and grooms on a marriage license snagged from the Clerk’s counter. They set up a makeshift platform while volunteer ushers set up buffet tables and dozens of eager (and hungry) people lined up to participate in the impromptu ceremony.


But faster than anyone could say “Dearly beloved,” all hope for an orderly wedding procession was tossed aside as people began trading bites and sips with raucous abandon. Asparagus with Cabernet-way! Bubbly with fish—delish. Goat cheese with red or white?…both, of course. With no pairing off limits, the normally sedate City Clerk’s office become a breeding ground for food-and-wine promiscuity.


As the bacchanalian scene built to a crescendo, Roberta Moldavi returned, accompanied by Mayor Gavin Newsom himself. The mayor was greeted with cheers. The cheers became a chant: “Marriage! Marriage! Marriage!”, which then morphed into “Polygamy! Polygamy! Polygamy!”


The stunned but smiling mayor raised his hand, quieting the crowd. “I understand that many people here are interested in marrying wine to food. As much as I support the rights of every Californian to join in matrimony with the partner of their choosing, state bylaws clearly indicate that couples must not only be just that—a twosome—but also, they must be at least 18 years of age. Given the circumstances, I am unable to solemnize this union,” Mayor Newsom said. “I wouldn’t mind grabbing a bite to eat, though.”


After a collective sigh, the feast resumed. Mayor Newsom ordered his office to send over a bottle of Plumpjack Chardonnay, which he enjoyed with some tomato bisque from Bistro Jeanty. Even Roberta Moldavi had a chance to sample some ratatouille and rosé. April 1st, 2004 would not, after all, go down in history as the official wedding date of wine and food. But all who witnessed the unusual proceedings at San Francisco City Hall could agree on one thing: Food and wine are much more enjoyable fooling around than in monogamy.



At the end of the day, W. R. Tish and his new friends Pat and Chris, were seen leaving City Hall arm in arm. They drove off in a limo with a sign on the back that read “Almost Married.” Some believe their next destination was Utah.