As a matter of course, my work with Maze Row involves a lot of hosting; industry lunches and wine dinners, with the occasional and (thankfully) dwindling virtual session. I consider it a perk of the job to meet strangers around a table that’s been dotted with wine. It’s a rare and precious thing, really; a group of people, all with different backgrounds and experiences, talking about “this wine with this food at this moment”.
It is like we’re all standing in front of little pieces of art, and through our admiration, our criticism, and our attempts to put language to feeling, we get to share ourselves in this unusual and authentic way.
But, If I’m being completely honest, as much as I love chatting about the “art” of wine with colleagues and collectors, it can occasionally get a bit, well, umm, pedantic (I maintain that wine is like jazz; there’s no way to talk about it at a party and not sound awful). And so, sometimes the best conversations I have are at events where I meet people that are just more “new” to wine. It’s more pure, in a way.
To them, wine is not this quotidian luxury; it is an object of fascination, often just out of reach. They want to understand wine, but there’s also this understandable skepticism of us wonks who talk about things like structure, minerality, and crunchy fruit. So, they try to cut through all the language and just get right to it, asking me, point blank: “What’s your favorite wine?”
I get that question. All. The. Time.
And my response is always the same: “Clutch my pearls! My favorite wine? Why, I never!”
After I’ve been fanned back to consciousness, I explain further: that it is impossible to pick. Wine is subjective to your experience, the moment and, most of all, the food in front of you. The guest, of course, rolls their eyes and suspects this is another instance of wine people attempting to trump up their profession through caginess. And, so, I parry with a simple statement: “But, if I could only drink one thing for the rest of my life, it would be white wine.”
This answer tends to grab people. Most (at least in the US where I live) have been convinced that the apex of great wine is solely the domain of Big Reds, so I enjoy being ever-so-slightly-transgressive to capture their attention and maybe shift their lens. And yes, sure, I love Barolo and Brunello and Bordeaux. But, let’s be honest, I’m not eating boar ragú every night (doctor’s orders). So, for sheer versatility, it’s all about whites, and this is doubly true in the summer months, when fresh produce beckons for wines with nuance, and the hot days beg for something chilled*.
So, below I’ve listed a few of my favorites from the Maze Row portfolio, in order from “lighter” to “weightier” to kick off your summer… and maybe, just maybe, a new love affair with wine, not based on high-minded conceptualism, but rather simple pleasures, shared: