Tasting The Day Away
For those keeping score at home, I still haven’t had my tacos.
Amazingly, this will be my last full day in California. I have no idea how this visit flew by so quickly. I suppose part of it had to do with taking a brief road trip yesterday up north a little ways.
When I was living in the Bay Area, I got into wine. These days I’m getting more and more into beer. But one of the things I never really did when living in Northern California was to explore the region’s breweries.
Mrs. Fussy still isn’t on the beer bandwagon. And while ADS may enjoy a beer every now and again, spending a lot of time going to breweries isn’t high on his priority list. So I thought long and hard about where I might go, if I could only do one beer outing. Because surely, I could convince my wife and lifelong friend to indulge me on one beer stop.
I even checked my gut instincts with the Capital Region Craft Lovers beer group. And we agreed that there was one place I simply had to visit.
The Russian River Brewing Company.
This post isn’t entirely about tasting all of the beers at the Russian River Brewing Company, because that would be dull. But this brewery rose to the top of my list, largely because its flagship beer, Pliny the Elder, is one of those almost universally beloved beers which is super challenging to get in New York.
For me, I felt compelled to try it. Not because I thought it would be a transcendent experience, but because my lack of direct knowledge of this beer felt like a significant gap in my personal beer journey. And being so close to the source, it was hard to think about visiting any place else.
Fortunately, they sell a massive sampler. It was eighteen two once pours of all their beers, for an eminently reasonable $22. But two ounces of Pliny wasn’t enough. So I bought a case of bottles to gorge on until the end of the trip.
Whatever we don’t finish, we’ll leave behind for our hosts.
But that wasn’t the only tasting of the day. Afterwards, we hit two wineries: Seghesio and J Vineyards. Mostly the choice of wineries was driven by the memories of friends who could not join us on this outing.
More than anything, I was struck by how nice it was to drink out of really good glasses.
And that’s coming from someone who has pretty darn good wine glasses at home. But the weight, clarity, and feel of a solid, but thin lipped tulip glass will elevate any beverage. It’s true.
I was reminded of the tasting I was offered recently at Twenty-Two 2nd Street Wine Company in Troy. That too was in a fine glass. And even though I still was not into a sauvignon blanc that saw time in oak, I was able to appreciate the wine better thanks to the wonderful glass.
The thing about tasting is that with a little bit of planning, you can execute your own sensory sessions at home.
That said, it’s always a pleasure to get a better sense about where your favorite drinks come from. To be on the property, to sniff the air, and get a sense of the geography. It’s amazing that this beer brand was born from the pet project of a major wine producer. It was fascinating to try a 100% pinot mineure. It was refreshing to remember just how hot it can get in wine country during the growing season.
Maybe refreshing is the wrong word, because it got up to 102 today while we were there. The good news is that it only felt like 98. But it’s the heat that makes the concentrated flavors of the grapes possible.
But that dry heat feels very much like wine country to me. Maybe that’s because this is the time of the year that Mrs. Fussy and I were on our honeymoon, which took us to wine country, among other places.
And it was fun to revisit some of our favorite haunts together, like the Downtown Bakery & Creamery in Healdsburg. I’m pleased to report it’s still excellent. Especially that bread pudding.
Tomorrow, tacos. And to sweeten the pot, Raf is talking about tripe tacos. I can’t wait.