The Joy of Simplicity

I was reminded of wine’s paramount place atop the heap of drinks yesterday after attending a "martini taste off".

As part of Sonoma’s Annual Olive Festival the Lodge At Sonoma hosted "Martini Madness". About 12 local restaurants gathered and provided the crowd with different "Martini creations". Now, let me be clear. I enjoy a Martini now and then. But I’m a purist. A martini is made with Gin, Vermouth and an olive. That’s a martini. And bottom line: The better the Gin, the better the Martini. And, there is a reason you put the word "Vodka" in front of "Martini" when you want them to substitute Vodka for Gin. The real deal is made with Gin.

That said, yesterday I tasted "Martinis" made with blood orange, lemon, various flavors of vodka, Ahi tuna replacing the olive, olive oil splashed on top, and various cheeses stuffed inside the olive. Some were better than others but I left feeling like I’d just tasted 12 different sorts of "drinks", all of which were really just "concoctions".

The whole experience sent me away reminded that wine, at its best, is something very pure: grapes, fermented and sometimes aged in a wooden vessel. That’s it. No splashes of flavored alcohol. No adornment. No confusion. And for all its simplicity, wine is clearly the most complex of alcoholic drinks one can consume.

"Martini Madness also reminded me of the deliciousness of purity and simplicity. I’ve always been happiest with the purest of drinks: Gin and vermouth, bourbon and two small cubes, anisette and water. Perhaps it’s the alchemist in me that lacks cultivation. Or, it may be that I just like things simple. In either case, I find that wine is far more satisfying in large measure for its simplicity.

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