Thursday, April 2, 2020

Nurse the Hate: Leo's Story About Greece

The one good thing about being under house arrest has been the ability to devote more time to my wine studies.  Sure, I watched Tiger King on Netflix, but I also sat through an hour and half webinar on Friuli and Lombardy.  A man needs balance.  A quick side note on Tiger King...  I kept waiting to see Leo stroll by on screen at some point.  Joe Exotic seems like a guy that would have been able to dupe Leo into feeding tigers, or at the very least make pizza out of expired Wal Mart meat.  When you toss in the fact that Joe Exotic provided weed strong enough to make straight guys have sex with/marry him, and I think we can all agree that it was plain dumb luck Leo never stopped at that Oklahoma roadside private zoo.  He would have nestled in like a tick there.

I've been sampling odd wines writing timed tasting notes.  Yesterday I got into a Xinomavro from Naoussa (Greece).  I have not had a great deal of Greek wine. There are a couple of good reasons for this.  First, I don't eat at Greek restaurants because there aren't a lot of Greek restaurants where I live because there aren't a lot of Greeks which means there aren't a lot of Greek wines.  The other reason is I was given a bottle of Greek wine once by a lady that did some work for me and I didn't trust her judgement on things like food or wine.  She had that thing a lot of older Greek and Italian women have, the judgement that the shinier something is, the "nicer" it is.  She loved Cher, shiny tight dresses, and rattling bracelets.  These women live in homes with gold lamp shades, zebra pelt rugs and fake waterfalls.  You think I am going to trust her judgement on a wonky shaped bottle of white wine?  It was a different age.  1999 Me was afraid to even try it.

I have since done what the Ancient Greeks referred to as book learnin'.  Greece, as befits an ancient culture with fabulous weather and rocky soils, has an equally historic wine culture.  Most Greek wines that make it to the States are crispy little whites meant to be drunk with seafood.  I don't know if I had ever even seen a Greek red wine before a few years ago.  This was a good one.  Xinomavro is a red wine grape.  It is very tannic and has a lighter color like a Nebbiolo.  To me it tastes like if a decent Barolo/Barbaresco was blended with a little California Zin made in a more restrained style.  It is tannic, structured, and feels somewhat delicate.  It doesn't have the complexity of a good Nebbiolo, but the exchange is more approachable fruit.  I've never had a Xinomavro from a quality producer with a decade of bottle age, but I will bet it is fabulous.

So I was drinking my Naoussa Xinomavro pondering End Times, wondering who has all the hoarded toilet paper, and regretting never having been to Greece.  I am woefully undereducated on Greece.  I have always assumed it was a place where hairy guys force you to do shots of ouzo at tavernas before stealing your wallet.  It's a place where you get lost because you can't read any signs and business can done with a goat.  "You take girl.  I take goat."  This is admittedly a hazy idea of Greece at best.  Leo went there for his honeymoon.  I had a conversation with him when he got back about it hoping to glean more information about Greece, but as usual he had almost no concrete facts on where he was and what he saw.

The only thing that stood out to him was a story he told me about "what they do in Greece".  As a disclaimer, he usually can't discern between something that is an odd trait of an individual that has attached himself to him or something which is a defining national trait or custom.  On his honeymoon he was on a group tour.  Leo told me about "something they do in Greece".  This could have been something someone told him on the bus as a joke.  "Yeah!  When you sneeze, someone will say a number between 1 and 27, and that number was the letter of the alphabet of the first name of the person that was thinking about you".

Now I know what you are thinking.  It's probably the same thing I was thinking.  There are only 26 letters in the alphabet, not 27.  I then questioned in my mind if Leo had picked up the Greek alphabet in the week he was in Greece, or maybe there were 27 letters in that alphabet, but decided that both facts were unlikely.  I had opened this Pandora's box, so I dove right in.  I asked Leo for clarification on what was the 27th letter of the alphabet.  "Ah..."  I could see him mentally running through the A,B,Cs in his head.  Suddenly his face brightened as he had found the answer.  "The 27th letter of the alphabet is The Joker". He smiled broadly, his point defended.  The debate was over.

So last night I sat there on this open ended house arrest listening to Fountains of Wayne, a criminally underrated band who's main songwriter Adam Schlesinger just died from coronavirus.  Shit.  Give any of their records a spin.  The songs are great.  The wine was good.  I was really digging that xinomavro.  If I ever get out of here, I am going to track down one of those with some bottle age.  I am also going to look into if anyone in Greece spells their name with a Joker.  It is probably necessary to note that upon introductions.  "My name is Alexander.  It is spelled joker-capital A-l-e-x-a-n-d-e-r.  The joker is silent..."

Ah Greece...  so much left to learn.      


At April 4, 2020 at 2:42:00 PM EDT , Blogger AZ said...

Good times indeed.


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