I Thee Wed ... But Not Your Wine How natural wine solved our marriage’s one big problem
I HEADED DOWN TO OUR CELLAR to get a white Burgundy to go with the salmon, but my lovely wife, Cassandra, yelled out that she felt like a red. Fine, sure, I could grab a Beaujolais. A week later, she wanted red with shrimp. And then trout. In desperation, I bought Zweigelts, Schiavas, Alsatian Pinot Noirs, even a red Sancerre, a wine that I’m pretty sure only exists for my precise predicament. “I’m all for having some white wine,” Cassandra would say, getting my hopes up, before adding: “As long as I can have red wine after, with dinner.” But I love white wine. And while “white with fish” may be an old cliché, sometimes red with fish is horrible. Try drinking Cabernet with mackerel. It’s like licking a handful of old pennies. The situation got so bad that I considered buying red food coloring.
Every white wine was problematized. Chablis was “too syrupy” and “thick,” Rieslings “too sweet”
except with a cheese plate. All Chenin Blancs were “goopy.” As much as I searched, I could not find a marriage counselor who specialized in wine pairings.
Luckily, I found the equivalent: Lou Amdur. His tiny Los Angeles wine shop (louwineshop.com) is so fun that my 9-year-old son asks to go there. Instead of organizing wines by region, his sections (written in refrigerator magnet letters) have included “Spaghetti!” and “Netflix & Chill.” He is a mad genius, one with a new insane project in the works every time I see him. Once, he pulled out bespoke hand puppets and voiced them as elderly, Jewish wine experts. He planned to use them in Instagram videos. He’s a guy you can talk to without worrying about if you’ll be judged.
Lou listened to me and suggested some natural wines, which he specializes in. I got a slightly oxidized white from the Jura, an orange wine from Slovenia, and a straight-up white from the Loire. Cassandra dug them, even agreeing to drink them with food. Lou had saved me from going on Tinder to swipe for women who love Gavi di Gavi.
But I wasn’t completely happy. Because I don’t love natural wines. I often find those cloudy wines with hipster line drawings on the label to be more interesting than delicious. I now felt forced to choose between good reds and weird whites. We needed another counseling session.
Sensing the seriousness of the situation, Lou agreed to come over for dinner with his wife, New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis. I made a lentil and root vegetable stew, since she’s a vegetarian, and because it seemed like the kind of food that went with hippie wines. Lou also suggested a stinky washed-rind cheese, a sour blue cheese, a flaky sheep milk cheese, and a plate of pickles. This seemed like a major home field advantage for natural wines, but Lou said a roast chicken could work, too. I liked his confidence.