The Liquid Diet

This Week in The Liquid Diet, it was all about the Old World!  Two wines that give you a glimpse into a simpler time where peoples’ immense passion and dedication yielded some of the best Juice your lips have experienced.   The roots of these wines run so deep I always feel like I am drinking a piece of history.  The wines themselves may not be centuries old, but they are steeped in tradition that spans back to the olden days, like way back even before your parents were born…real old!

Monday November 14, 2011 at 6:38 PM MST:

Tonight’s excursion was actually spurred by 5280 Magazine’s Top 25 Restaurants issue.  I wanted to cross-check my list of restaurants I had yet to dine at and make that my destination for the evening. Unfortunately for my sake, many of the restaurants were closed on Sunday and Monday (herein was my reason for not visiting these fine dining establishments).  So, I whittled my way to No. 17, Duo Restaurant, and set out for some goodness.

I knew I was in the mood for a memorable bottle that would probably cost as much as the rest of our meal combined.  Not sure why, but I was in that zone.  After I set my sights on their French section, I knew I was going to Burgundy.  For some reason, the minimalist label and elegant bottle of the Domaine Jaeger-Defaix Rully Premier Cru Clos Du Chapitre was so comforting.  No clever logos or catchy names, just a tongue twister with nine words in the wine’s name.  The aroma of leather and earth wafted into my nose right away.  It reminded me of when I was a kid as I’d set to work on my new baseball gloves to soften the leather.  The flexing leather, the ground-stomping, and the happy memory all floated up.  The classic high acidity of this Pinot Noir is what makes it such a food-friendly wine. Thankfully, food is exactly what I had an abundance of.  The dish best complementing the wine was Beef Heart Tartare with mustard and a soft poached egg.  The slight spice of the mustard along with the minerality of the heart went together well with the Burgundy. Like so many of the best dishes in restaurants, the tartare was a dish not listed on the menu. Instead, the kitchen sends it out with special love.  Typically, it does not disappoint when the experts are allowed to just do what they do.  Cooking is so much about holding on and dining is just about letting go.

Later that evening…

I was feeling like an after dinner cocktail after the great dinner at Duo.  Since I was already in the Highlands area, I thought a visit to Colt & Gray to see my friend and fellow Denver Off The Wagon writer Kevin Burke (@unboulevardier) would be in order.  Turns out I crashed a private “Somm [Sommelier] Dinner” that Classic Wines was hosting for the top Sommeliers in Denver/Boulder…oops!  Good thing I drink enough wine that I know most of these guys including the reps from Classic; it was only slightly awkward when I strolled in.  The format was a plated dinner featuring all German Riesling.  Unfortunately, I didn’t stick around for the whole dinner, seeing as I had already gorged myself. While I couldn’t stay for some ’93 Riesling (Kevin and Jess Hunter can tell you more about that one), I was able to get my hands on Koehler-Ruprecht 2009 Kallstadter Kabinett Trocken Reisling.  Again, with the ridiculously long name for Old World wines.  Dry German Riesling is one of my favorite styles of wine in the world and easily my favorite white wine period.  I love the rich bready nose with a hint of honey.  Loving food with my wine the sharp acidity and smooth finish are ideal.  The limestone characteristics give it depth that you only get in the best white wines.   Aged Riesling tends to get this serious funk like petroleum and gun powder.  Its like standing face to face with a 4 ton tank without flinching and then putting it in your mouth and swirling it around!  While there are certainly less-than-par sweet Rieslings, trust me when I say this grape yields some of the best wine around.  Get back on your horse and put a tank or two in your mouth and just see what happens!

So, this week we learned that going old school with wine is not only not a bad idea, but not to shabby either.  Also, we learned that it takes at least 7 words to truly give a name to such prestigious grape juice.  Don’t forget…Choose your booze wisely and you are a connoisseur; let your booze choose you and you are an alcoholic!

Quite a week in the life of The Liquid Diet…what will this week hold in store…stay tuned!

About Jensen Cummings

Jensen Cummings (@JensenDCummings) is the Executive Chef at Row 14 in downtown Denver. He calls his food "Pangean Cuisine" and his teaching style "Fortune Cookie Philosophy" so you know he's a little off his rocker! His side passion project is to collaborate with brewers on chef/food inspired beers meant to be paired with high end cuisine. Jensen is an avid beer collector, student of spirits, soon to be Certified Cicerone and a sommelier in training. Basically, he is just really into adult beverages and super geeky!