Wine and Onion: More in Common than You May Think…..

25 Nov

Pensioner grows world's biggest ever onion...a 17lb 15oz whopper

            This week marked the end of our ISG Fundamentals of Wine I class and the beginning of Fundamentals of Wine II.  From a certain perspective, it seems strange that the class is divided into two parts.  On the other hand, it’s beginning to make perfect sense.  First, the focus of the first four weeks was grapes, and we studied and tasted 18 different varieties.  In most cases, we tasted both Old World and New World examples, as well as wines that demonstrated different methods of vinification so that we could begin to really know the grapes and to hopefully recognize them, in all their many faces.  The focus of Fundamentals of Wine II will be to study wines from specific regions, to learn about terroir, climate, culture, viticulture and vinification practices so that we can begin to understand how those influences work together on our friends from Fundamentals I, the grapes, to produce treasure in a bottle.  So while the emphasis of Fundamentals II is different from that of Fundamentals I, I got the sense this week that we are just starting the downward spiral at the wide top end of a never ending funnel of learning.  The study of wine is like an onion and there are many layers of understanding.

            This week our focus of study was the wines of France.  I’ve been waiting for the week with excited anticipation.  As an American consumer, I’ve always felt undereducated about French wines.  I’m accustomed to labels that tell me what’s inside the bottle and French labels that merely reveal the place of origin often perplex me.  As I read our book and prepared my spreadsheet to condense and organize what I’ve learned, I just kept thinking about a photo that I saw earlier this summer.  In the photo, an English pensioner lovingly cradles his world record onion like a mother with her newborn.   Peter Glazebrook’s monster onion weighed in at 17 lbs., 15.5 oz.

          As I look at my spreadsheet of salient details on just Bordeaux and Burgundy and realize that it’s already 14 pages long, I reach an inescapable conclusion:  Wine is one big “onion”……. And as onion plays a starring role in all the world’s great cuisines, to me, wine plays a starring role in meals, adding nuances of texture and flavor and inviting friends and family to explore, share and linger, basking in the comfort of togetherness at table.  The smile on Mr. Glazebrook’s face says it all.


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