For a while now I never really “got” Pinot Grigio. I have tasted the wine on countless different occasions and, well, I have always been than whelmed. So, when we received a bottle of 2012 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio from a couple we had over for dinner a few weeks ago, I just tossed it into the cellar–I did not even bother entering it into Cellar Tracker (which is rare for me). I had no idea when or where I would drink the thing.
A few days later, I read a post on Pinot Grigio by my blogger buddy, Talk-a-Vino. The post was a one of his fantastic quizzes based on a single variety. One of the questions hit me like a laser:
“Name [the] Italian Pinot Grigio wine which is considered a golden standard of Pinot Grigio in the United States (people really ask for it by name).”
Since there was only one Pinot Grigio I could name (the Santa Margherita) I figured it was the answer (it was), but I had no idea it was a “gold standard”
As often happens (but rarely materializes), I was struck with an idea for a post:
I decided I would crack the bottle of Santa Margherita and let the utterly vapid liquid full my mouth. I would quickly realize that there was next to nothing remotely redeemable about the wine, make a few snarky comments about Italian wine in general and be done.
I even had a preliminary title: “Pinot Grigio–I just don’t get it.”
When I thought about writing this article, I knew that Pinot Grigio pretty much sucked, which was my entire premiss. I have little doubt that I never really had a good or even passable Pinot Grigio, but that might be irrelevant–I assume that “better” PG is also pricier and I just don’t think the better juice could be that much better. I have not had a rant in a good long while, and I could not think about a better subject. So last week, I went down into the cellar to grab the bottle and throw it in the fridge before I left for work.
That was the plan.
One problem: I could not find the bottle.
Those of you that have seen the “cellar” might not be all that surprised that I could not find a bottle of wine down there, but there certainly is a method to the madness. I have little doubt that if my wife (or anyone else) asked me to find a randomly selected bottle from my Cellar Tracker list, I would find it in under two minutes.
But I could not find the Santa Margherita.
I knew that I had placed it in the area where I keep all the wines that should be consumed in the near term, but it was definitely not there. So I did something I am normally loathe to do:
I asked my wife.
It is not because I fear interaction with my lovely wife, quite the contrary. I do try and avoid having conversations with her about my cellar, however. It seems as though whenever I mention a problem having to do with the overstuffed cellar, she invariably ends up “suggesting” that I buy far too much wine and I would not have such a problem if I would stop acquiring bottles.
Which is true.
I decided to ask her nonetheless. It turns out that she took the bottle when she went out to dinner with some of her friends just a few days prior. She mentioned that she saw my face when we received the bottle and figured that I would not miss it. Normally, she would be right, but in this case, I had plans for that bottle! For a moment, I thought I would get all indignant and tell how she can’t just go into the basement and grab any bottle she pleases. She needs to consult with me first….
Then I realized this would only cause her to go downstairs and find one of my most coveted bottles and use it to deglaze a pan.
So I shut up.
Instead, I did something else equally stupid: I went to the local PLCB and picked up a bottle for $24 (later I learned that it was $18 almost everywhere else on the planet–yeah, the PLCB cares about consumers).
Eventually, the bottle of wine that I originally got for free, but ended up costing me $24 found its way into the fridge, preparing to sacrifice itself for a rant.
After waiting a bit for the Frigidaire to work its magic, I pulled the synthetic closure and sloshed some into my favorite glass. Initially, the wine was a tad bit too warm.
There was an interesting nose of banana and coconut and on the palate there was an inviting acidity that screamed “food”. I thought “Hmmpf, this might not be all that bad!”
I threw the wine back in the fridge to put a tad more chill on it. After a bit, I tried it again.
Close to flavorless. Now that’s the Pinot Grigio I was expecting.
That got me thinking (never a good thing). Most whites are served far too cold, and I have never had a Pinot Grigio that was served anywhere near 40 degrees (4 degrees Celsius) let alone 50 (10 Celsius). I wonder if those hordes of Pinot Grigio drinkers would still like the wine if it were served at a temperature that they could actually taste the wine?
I would venture to guess “No.”
As for me? I will still likely pan Pinot Grigio, but perhaps not as fervently as before. I would say the Santa Margherita was Good, perhaps Very Good (85-87 Points), but I am not rushing out to buy any more (even for $18).
I guess after having quite a few bottles of the French-style Pinot Gris, I just think that is a much better expression of the grape.
But then we all know that I am a French snob….