Think about your favorite food – roast duck, filet mignon, foie gras – whatever it is. Would you want to eat that food for every meal, day in and day out?
Chances are you wouldn’t, no matter how much you love it.
So it should come as no surprise that winemakers, who often taste dozens of wines every single day, don’t always drink the same wines when they are “off the clock.” In fact, most agree that drinking only their own wine is a bad idea.
We asked several local winemakers and winery owners what they drink when they are away from the winery. The answers are as diverse as the respondents’ backgrounds and goals.
“Right now, I am especially hot on Robert Weil Riesling. His 2003 Auslese is the best wine I have had in years. For reds, I have two and a half cases of Chateau Berliquet 2000 that I could not wait for any longer and started drinking. Additionally, I have a wonderful supply of Roanoke Vineyards’ top reds and wines from Shinn Estate Vineyards. Otherwise a nice Guinness or Schneider Hefe Weizen will do.” –Roman Roth, Winemaker and general manager, Wolffer Estate
“I don’t drink a lot of wine recreationally, but I’ve been sampling aromatic whites and Malbecs. For many winemakers, wine is work and we approach it with a critical eye (or tongue). It’s not easy to slurp a wine without trying to dissect it. Beer is more mindless.
I only drink flavorful beers with adequate hops and alcohol. Coors Light is for people who don’t like the taste of beer. My feeling is that the people who like Coors Light also consume Beringer white zinfandel and Wonder Bread. It’s all about flavor. Some people avoid it. Maybe it’s too much work to process the sensations one receives from food and beverages that taste good?” – Greg Gove, winemaker, Peconic Bay Winery
“The wines to be found in my cabinet vary with the seasons. In spring and summer I tend to pick up more of the white wines, New Zealand sauvignon blanc being my favorite. Also more often than wine a cold pilsner seems to hit the spot after a long day at the winery.” – Les Howard, winemaker, Jamesport Vineyards
"We drink, and make a point to drink, wines from all over the world – all the time. We collect American, French, Spanish, Italian, some Austrian and German, and a couple of other eclectic choices but as producers we feel it’s our responsibility to drink all wines from the various wine producing regions so we know where we stand.
Certainly we have our favorite regions, one of which we are drinking tons from at the moment is the Northeast of Italy. We are super pumped up about a couple of producers at the moment, which include Roncus (Bianco Vecchie Vigne), Dorigo (some of the best reds coming from northeastern Italy, Refosco, Pignolo, Montsclapade), Maculan (incredible producer making nice whites, reds and stupendous dessert wines, Fratta, Crosara, Torcolato, Acininoblili), Foradori (well-deserved fame for their Teroldogo, Granato), Lis Neris (one of the standard bearers for aromatic whites and white blends, LIS, Pinot Grigio-Gris), and Muri-Gries (Lagrein).” –Allison Dubin and Christopher Tracy, general manager and winemaker (respectively), Channing Daughters Winery
“Well, we do drink wine at home as we all grew up in families that had a little wine with lunch or dinner – and we like to try all sorts. (We are) always ready to find out what others are doing. There is no pattern except that we try and marry the wine with the food that (my wife) Ursula is preparing. In a nutshell diversity and curiosity trump tradition. We enjoy all wines so long as they are well made and not flawed, as in corked. We also enjoy the difference. For example, we enjoy California Pinot Noir for what they are and do not put them down because they are so different from the Pinot Noir from Burgundy. It is interesting to see how a grape expresses itself differently in different “cultures” – just as people do.
A particular region I am exploring is Italy as I do not have a very broad experience in Italian wines. A grape I am paying more attention to is sauvignon blanc, since we started making such a (dry) wine in 2004. I am impressed by the difference between, for example, Sancerre and New Zealand, which are so different and yet appealing in their own way.
As to other beverages, BBQ season is close and yes we do enjoy a good cold beer with a hamburger!” – Charles Massoud, winemaker and co-owner, Paumanok Vineyards
“I am a huge fan of a brewery in Pennsylvania – Victory Brewery. I have tried many of their beers and have been to the brewery, but one beer I have kind of neglected drinking was there Prima Pils. Bridget and I bought a six pack yesterday and it rocks. Another great pilsner is Jever (pronounced yeah-ver) Pilsner. It is imported but available at good beer distributors. The Prima is well hopped with, I believe, Hallertau and has a slighty malty palate. Jever is a dry clean, crisp refreshing pilsner. I know for most winemakers the old standby is Pilsner Urquell, but these two beers rival Urquell. That is what I have been drinking this past week. The main reason was that I have family in from Mexico and nothing goes as well with Mexican food as beer. Tu sabes que yo estoy diciendo? (You know what I am saying?)" – Juan (John) Eduardo Micieli-Martinez, winemaker, Shinn Estate Vineyards
“Last night Barbara decided that we should have Mexican night, so I made fresh lime margaritas. After spending so many years in California we find ourselves craving good tequila and tacos every so often. I have been a big fan of Bourbon whiskey my entire life, taking after my grandfather who, in the twenties and thirties, worked with his father to produce whiskey from the corn and rye they grew on the family farm back in Wisconsin. Barbara and I have been to Kentucky to visit distilleries and dream of having a still at Shinn.
We have a couple of favorite California wineries that we tend to drink when we are feeling lonesome for the good old days. Navarro and Benziger come to mind.” –David Page, co-owner Shinn Estate Vineyards
(This story appeared in the 5/26 issue of Dan's Papers)