i was raised to be a beer drinker. i suspect that when i was born, my father set out on a mission to ensure that his daughter would be different than all the other little chinese girls out there, commonly known as the lightweights of the lightweights who prefer the fruitier cocktails. looking at old family albums, there are several photos of me as a toddler strategically situated next to a beer can. i can only assume this is my father's doing. and well, his hard work paid off because until this day, i consider myself a die-hard beer drinker over any other libation.
until this past year, i've remained my father's beer-drinking daughter.
i've scoffed at the snootiness of wine, all that jargon people throw around
when waxing the merits of a pinot noir over a merlot (and i suspect that over
half of them are just reciting paul giamatti’s lines in 2004’s sideways).
i imagined wine drinkers as people with names like "sir jeeves" who
sample 1987 bordeauxs (hmm, not even sure if '87 was a good vintage of
yes, i'll admit i was a bit wine ignorant (and probably still am). i saw the world in grape or grain. you are either a wine drinker or a beer drinker. wine drinkers took themselves too seriously (and had names like sir jeeves). beer drinkers knew how to have a good time (and had names like joe). who wouldn't want to be part of the latter group? but as my food tastes have become more sophisticated, i've felt the social pressure to venture into the world of wine. after all, when was the last time you were at a fine dining establishment and they handed you a beer list? my foray into the wine world has not been easy and i can’t say i’ve gone all too willingly, fearing that i’ve been a traitor to my roots (i took my father wine tasting in sonoma recently and he kept asking them, "so do you have any thing other than wine?" we are definitely not wine drinkers.). however, i have reached a point where perhaps there is room on my table for both a pint and a wine glass.
it seems that more and more, the two worlds are converging. the microbrew has become the indie band of the beer world. in other words so popular that it isn’t even indie anymore. beer isn’t just an ale or a lager anymore; or pale or dark. there are beer reviewers, beer magazines. more jargon to describe beer as there is to describe wine. beer, it’s not just for your regular joe anymore.
on the other hand, wine seems to have watered down its reputation to appeal to the regular joe. we can all walk into a trader joe’s and get a decent bottle of wine for under ten bucks (some of my favorites in the under ten crowd are: cellar #8’s 2004 merlot, twin fin’s 2004 pinot noir and 2005 hello my name is syrah). there’s even a wine blog called the budget vino, dedicated to reviewing wines under ten bucks. labels are becoming more fun and less stuffy. wines with names like fat bastard fly off the shelves. yes, it seems that the world of wine has changed (for the better).
that’s why it was so refreshing to come upon a winery like quixote on a
recent trip to napa. quixote was started
in 1996 by carl doumani (previously of stags leap winery and also father of
lissa doumani of terra and ame) after he decided that napa was taking its place
in the wine world just a little bit too seriously. through quixote, doumani was able to recapture
the fun in wine again with the help of friedensreich hundertwasser an austrian architect. taking six years to build, quixote is
hundertwasser’s only design in the states and is well worth a look for its
playfulness and divergence from the rules of conventional architecture. from the color to the lack of straight lines,
the place is a bit
tucked away from the main silverado trail, quixote is a nice departure from the chateau after chateau like structures that line napa’s main artery. tours and wine tasting can be arranged by appointment through lew price (firstname.lastname@example.org), the general manager. at no more than eight to a tour and tasting group, the whole feel of quixote is personalized and intimate (but never snooty). it's more of a museum tour than a winery tour if anything and on a nice day, the wine tasting happens outside with the pacific palisades as a backdrop. i could get used to this whole wine thing, eh? i even came out with two bottles of the 2003 quixote petite syrah and two bottles of the 2004 panza claret, which may be one of the best wines i've ever tasted. i would describe it as a full bodied wine with just the right blend of spices and fruit. just kidding. i have no idea what it was except for really, really good.
now how 'bout a pint of beer?