Thursday, December 29, 2005

Dionysis Would Approve

A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

I owe an apology for the belated Christmas wishes, but of course, I have what I consider a fairly fool-proof alibi. Em and I had been stocking up wine for about a week before our Christmas lunch and dinner. The boyfriend, who is usually the voice of moderation in all matters alcoholic (given that he doesn't drink anything besides a few gulps of Bailey's Irish Cream) went off for a two-week vacation to see family for Christmas. So here I was free to pick up a California Riesling here and a New Zealand Chardonnay there.

I snagged up two Italian wines as well, made with grapes that I for the life of me cannot remember. Even if I did, how were you going to track them down? The Italians are the largest wine producers in the world (yep, not the French, mon ami), and most of the varietals are restricted to small areas and many are so obscure that perhaps many Italians living in other regions wouldn't have heard of them. The sheer variety of wines classified under the DOC/DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata/Denominzione di Origine Controllata Garantita) is mind-boggling. And these unfortunately, weren't particularly worth tracking down. A pity, because the Italians do make excellent wine.

Anyway, so it's pretty obvious that I'm building up to something here, and the dominant theme happens to be wine. On Christmas Eve, which is when I should have been sending out my "Joy to the World" wishes to everyone, curiosity and the romance of my new adorable wine glasses get the better of me and I open up the bottle of Riesling. Not the sort of stuff that made Riesling the king of aged wines, but woo-hoo 12 per cent alcohol, here I come! A second glass definitely tastes better, and I had decided a long time ago that emailing while drunk isn't exactly the best mail etiquette.

The next day was the big day. Our annual ritual of Christmas lunch and dinner had shifted to my apartment this year, and Em and I spent all morning getting the rotisserie chicken and cake. One of these years, I'll definitely try and roast a chicken at home, but as things stand buying a rotisserie chicken is incredibly cheap and hassle free. Besides, I don't own a rotisserie, and as anyone who's ever made a rotisserie, tandoori or barbecue chicken would tell you, the oven's definitely an inferior option.

And then the lunch began. We had a three guests bailing out, because the person they were coming with, Frid, called in sick. But there was Em, me, Soto and AI, another friend who's recently moved back to LA. And guess what, besides all the bottles amassed by Em and I, Soto and AI brought more wine. We started eating and drinking at 2, stopped eating some hour and a half later, moved on to dessert and coffee, but kept up with the wine. Bottles magically opened, and I still had my corkscrew by the end of the night, unlike previous parties where my corkscrew always mysteriously disappeared (the fact that folks are lifting corkscrews gives you an indication of how humble my abode is). And glasses seemed to fill up magically as well - well not so magically, we were hellbent on getting drunk and getting the others drunk as well. The conversation was fabulous, which it would have been even without the wine, given that my lunch companions were three great guys.

My choice for the evening? Definitely the California Pinot Noir brought in by AI. I swear I had no idea what it was before I took a sip and felt that it was very smooth and a very pleasant wine. Although I have seen Sideways, I'm honestly not one of those who contributed to the 12 per cent jump in Pinot Noir sales after the movie came out. In fact, after seeing Sideways, I unconsciously censored many a desire to pick up a Pinot Noir at stores for fear of "The Look", the one that fellow wine shoppers give you, that seems to say, "You saw Sideways, didn't you?" Actually, it's more than that. I'm a bit of an adventure-seeker in food and wine (to a point, I draw the line at monkey brains), and love tasting obscure grape varietals. Besides fairly good wine from not so well known wine producing regions like Greece can be had at great bargain prices, unlike even middling Burgundy (the finest manifestation of Pinot Noir) that comes with a price tag befitting its scarcity value and name recognition premium.

After all the food, wine and happy conversation, there was only one thing left to do. Round off the evening with a light-as-souffle chick-flick, a breezy finale to a great day. Unfortunately the choice of film, Rumor Has It, left much to be desired. I had rooted for Pride and Prejudice, but I was the only Austen fan there. Apparently most Austen fans are disproportionately spinster cat owners, I don't own a cat, but can check off the spinster box. So off we went to see "Rumor Has It", a movie that very strangely tries to cast Pasadena as some sort of tiny, suburban, conservative bastion. Now, Pasadena isn't the most interesting part of town, and most of my friends would rather drive to the Westside or South Bay or weekends, but that doesn't mean it's teeming with vanilla-bland country club members. It seems the LA Times agrees, for they too noticed how laboured the Pasadena spiel was.

But then you might say, what was I doing for three days after Christmas? I could have said hangover, but I'd be lying. No, I think I was in a sort of post-holiday stupor. And amused myself with inane surfing that yielded this gem. For those too lazy to click, this is a feature section on IndianTelevision that interviews executives working in the television industry about their lifestyles, choice of books, etc. In case you are wondering about those who make Indian television what it is today. Pay special attention to the favourite books listed by the executives. Bless Ajay Chacko and Zarina Mehta, there's still hope for the book lover in the Indian television industry!


Blogger anthony said...

Happy new year and Merry christmas too. Since, I don't drink wth my parents around and this yera they have come to spend time with me, I won't be drinking so I skipped reading about the wines :-D . My Parents still think Drinks are for the evil and why challenge their faith after all the years so I let them be... And It will be the first new year after many many years when I start a yera without a

One question?? How did you use an image hosted on blogger for the [title]. Did you post the image in a post which you saved as a draft and use the source from there??? or is there any other way? Just curious..

8:40 PM  
Blogger Soumyadip said...

Warm whishes coming your way across the seven seas. Enjoy 2006!

It's not the French! A little gyan makes the year end better.

9:29 PM  
Blogger anthony said...

BTW A very very happy new year!!

3:32 AM  
Anonymous Sanity Starved said...

:D Chilean Wines. 5 bucks and they are spectacular. Yes, am a very cheap bastard when it comes to wines.
Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages Burgundy $x.99, where x is a single digit number and available at the grocery store next door, everywhere. It is a table wine though.
A Very Happy New Year to you too!
God bless the humble yeast.
Yes, Cheers! :D

7:28 AM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Anthony, this is the case with my mother as well. When I took back a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream last year, a friend of my mother's tried to forcefeed her a few drops, alas with no success! My father on the other hand will have an occasional social drink and is completely sold on the health benefits of wine.

That's exactly the procedure I followed for posting the header. You're absolutely correct.

And a very happy new year to you!

Soumyadip, wonderful wishes your way as well. Hope you have a blast! The French wine industry is much more highly regulated, hence production runs are controlled and restricted.

Pidus, Happy new year to you! You know I read somewhere that Chile has the ideal viticulture climate, virtually disease-free.

You know, apparently now is the time for Beaujolais Nouveau, a wine meant to be drunk very young and released sometime in November (it's good for at least 3-6 months after the release). Wine conneisseurs sneer at it, but it's the perfect holiday drink, light and fresh. Georges Duboeuf is a good brand.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Sanity Starved said...

Yeah, Georges Duboeuf is good too. But, Louis Jadot is "cheaper" by a good five bucks :D And table wines, since they have grapes from different vineyards instead of being from an "exclusive" vineyard, mean you can pick them even in summer without worrying about how they will taste. But, honestly, Chilean wines are really good. Best bang for the buck.
Hmm... I think it's just snobs not liking Burgundy because everyone buys it during Valentine's Day. Until they pay me for their expensive wines, I will sneer back :D
I used to keep a bottle of burgundy in my lab in grad school, where no one would suspect... err... in a paper bag on the prof's bookshelf :D

10:36 PM  
Blogger Rimi said...

i skipped the wine bit too. the only access i have to 'em is when discerning friends invite me for a meal :(

the indian television link promises to be fun, though. i'm off to check it out now. have a fabulous new year, swati! and pass on the wishes to the boyfriend as well :)

9:45 PM  
Blogger K said...

Happiness from my side as well. Napa Valley is goooooood......
Have a great 2006!

8:05 AM  
Blogger said...

Happy new year TM. I like your new template, even though you cribbed about mine. Check out my quail in red wine recipe, with cheap Napa wine - you lucky things in California!

7:24 PM  
Blogger anthony said...

Do link this

11:47 PM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Pidus, snobs don't like Burgundy? That's news to me. I thought the very purpose of a wine snob's life was to keep track of the quality of Burgundy's vintages. Yes, they do turn up their noses at Beaujolais, but certainly not at the other fine Burgundy wines.

Rimi, thanks for the wishes. The best to you as well!

K, thanks a ton! Yes, Napa Valley is beautiful, but Sonoma makes all the serious wine :).

Gypsy, I'm so mortified! I love your blog, so perhaps got a little overboard with my cribbing. I hope you didn't mind too much. And the best wishes to you too.

Anthony, I'll read it right now.

1:21 PM  

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