Feeling Crotchety?

As usual, we begin this month’s wine column with a digression, about thinking and the emergence of taste, eventually returning to wine:

In classes I taught at LCC, we had a rule: no use of cell phones during class (exceptions for possible emergencies). One morning, I was filling the whiteboard with notes and noticed a student in the back row looking down at his cupped hands. My students might think I’m a bit dim about their current stratagems but I knew what was going on. “Kyle,” I said, “are you on your cell?”

“No,” he quickly returned, “I’m smiling at my crotch.” Before I knew this was an internet meme (nice word for cliché), I gave him full credit for fastest, most original come-back I’d ever encountered. In fact, even when I tried to get back to whiteboarding, I lost it, broke up in laughter (joining students who nearly rolled on the carpet). “Kyle,” I responded, “if you get messages from that area that it’ll be doing your thinking, I want to know.”

If pushed, I have to admit that when I was Kyle’s age (18-19 maybe), my crotch was doing almost all my thinking, about almost any subject, including my driving. And my drinking.

When I was an undergrad at U of Nevada-Reno, bad beer was the obligatory beverage, the social lubricant for all occasions, whole kegs of awful stuff. I held my nose, controlled the gag reflex and swilled mass quantities, even though I hated that guck. My crotch assured me it was essential. I scowled at my crotch but I complied.

Years later, when friends suggested a beer, I turned them down and chose wine (cheap wine at first, better as I matured). Then came the craft-brewing movement and flavor returned to beer.

Clearly, we can extract several lessons from those experiences: First, the main organ of pleasure in the body is not in the area of the crotch but considerably further north, in the brain; second, taste, as an appreciation of experience, including flavor, can change over time, usually for the better; third, never let your crotch do your driving — or your drinking. Draw your own conclusions on other lessons. To wine:

Our temps are still cool so it might seem early for rosés, but these two are so pretty they’ll put a smile on your face: Dylan’s Rose 2011 Teresa’s Rosé ($10) is pale pink but packed with whiffs of flowers/strawberries/melon, with just enough sweetness to round out the flavors. Territorial 2011 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($11.50) is consistently excellent, especially with pastas and cheeses that encourage the cherry/raspberry flavors to emerge. Can’t find this vintage? Don’t worry; just take the next one up.

A challenge for any wine is also a blessing of spring. Lovely, fresh asparagus have appeared in our markets, but wine doesn’t much smile at that yummy veg. And although we’re dedicated locavores, we can’t help turning to this solution: Maipe 2012 Torrontés ($10) just grins at asparagus; torrontés is a peculiar native grape varietal that thrives in Argentina. Made well, it’s a dry white with flavors that echo peaches/melons/apricot, and it just grins at greens. This torrontés could be tricky to find; if so, ask a salesperson to steer you to another. If you must buy Oregon, Elemental Cellars 2010 Auxerrois ($15) is terrific, a crisp white accented by apple/pear flavors. Don’t be troubled by pronunciation: try saying o-x-er-wha, gimmesum.

Good stuff for the onset of summer fun. Even your crotch will like these. You’ll be smiling.

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