Nights at the Long Table

They knew it was the right piece the moment they saw it. No need for intricate details. This restored oak table conveyed warmth, intimacy in its narrow breadth and quiet grandeur in its sturdy eight-foot length. It was a table built for lively discussion and quiet confessions. It is a table, I imagine, upon which deals have been made, letters have been penned. It is a table which speaks of memorable gatherings and memories to be made.

My sister and her husband purchased the table as an immaculate addition to their renovated home, an urban farm with all the right touches. And yet, it never felt like home for them. So last month, the moved from their urban start to a true farm, 30 acres, 30 miles east of Austin. Over the holidays, we all gathered there in the table’s new home.img_7486

When your brother, a professional chef, comes to town, every meal is taken to the next level. The ingredients are combined in new and surprising ways. Small refinements in traditional comforts, simple ingredients combine to shine. His approach to food is like his humor-subtle, unexpected, and elevated.

On our first night together at the table, he braised some locally raised grass-fed beef with three kinds of chiles, onions, tomatoes, carrots. Rustic, tempered spice, full of flavor, it needed a wine to match. I chose the 2014 Nieto Senetiner Malbec-Cabernet Franc ($15)from their Blend Collection. Blackberry nose, dried cherry on the palate, hints of smoke and green. Spicy and study, it matched the mood of the meal.

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The next evening, as the sun set we shared a game of scrabble and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, Crowded House* ($13). This wine is set to release in the states this month. This was a slightly different profile than I’ve come to expect from NZ Sauv. blanc. More lime zest and lemon pulp than grapefruit, white flowers, wax apple, cardamom. It was an interesting and enjoyable surprise.

For dinner, we moved to pork tenderloin with an herb and chile rub, roasted okra, and cheese grits. We paired a Carignan and a 2014 Nanny Goat Pinot Noir($23) from Central Otago. When it is first poured, notes of raspberry, orange peel, and baking spices dominate. As it opens the balanced acidity and minerality are joined by more complex notes of rose petal and soft leather. This wine was enjoyed by all and could be paired in many directions.img_7493

For Christmas dinner, we recreated a meal my grandmother used to prepare for us at Christmas. Sauerbraten pickles for 10-14 days in a brine of lemons, pickling spices, wine, and vinegar, My brother made traditional red cabbage and spätzle with the meal. Here is the embarrassing part. I was so enthralled and nostalgic that I didn’t take one picture of the wines shared. They were a Burgundy and a Rhone blend and delicious, I remember that.

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Each of these wines were crafted from grapes typical for their region. In the right conditions, they thrive and produce their best qualities. Each could be considered “mid-range” for price point but excellent examples of such. Each wine had elements I would expect from the grape, each had a surprising addition. They were multi-layered, both classic and interesting. Upon reflection, they paired with more than our food, I’d day they paired with the people.   Honest, warm, with always a few elements of surprise.

While saying grace our first night there, my brother-in-law expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be together and for a place to gather that felt more like “home” in one month than their other house ever did. And as we took our seats around the table, a table chosen for one place, yet moved to another, I agreed.

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As we move into the new year, I am reminded that because something is where it has been, it doesn’t mean it should stay there. Because I am comfortable where I am, with what I am doing, it doesn’t mean there isn’t more. That there are places where the old feels new again, and the new feels like it has always been there, waiting.

Hoping 2017 bring you more love, more new beginnings, and more comfort in what you already have. And many more nights at the long table.

{These wines were provided as media samples by Gregory White PR and Nonni Marketing. I received no other compensation. Thoughts and opinions are my own.}

 

 

Posted by

Wine lover. Oenophile. Wanna-be-sommelier. Mom. Mommy. MA-MAAAAA!!!!!! Grocery shopper, budding nutritionist, dish scrubber, meat cutter. My love of wine started in my mid-twenties. I have no formal training, just a decent palatte and a desire to learn. And I am pretty good in the kitchen. The more I learn, the greater the desire to educate myself through articles, blogs, travel, and surrounding myself with others who like to discuss wine. When things calm down (what's that?) in my life, I may choose a formal education in the arena, but for now, I will taste, share, and taste some more. My descriptors may or may not be "correct." My pairings may wow, surprise, or may not "work." But, the best learning is through trial and error, right? Especially when the "trial" means drinking more wine. So, if you are up for a little wisdom about wine, and a lot of wine-induced wisdom, come along for the ride

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