Some of you may remember that I mentioned teaching a freshman seminar this quarter on Food Writing. Well, we had our first meeting last week and today our first writing assignment is due. I told the students I’d be following along with them, so below is my version of the first assignment.
We could choose between 2 tasks: either write about your favorite food without ever saying anything remotely like “I love it because…” and instead, tell a story or find another way for the reader to understand that it’s your favorite; OR write about your favorite food using no adjectives at all and then go back and add 3 adjectives. (These are prompts from “Will Write for Food” and we are working on showing, not telling.)
Favorite “Food”: Wine
There’s something really evocative and wonderful for me about the ritual of opening a bottle of wine.
First, remove the capsule—the foil, to some—by scoring it with the knife on a waiter’s corkscrew. Turn the bottle ‘round to achieve that perfect circle coming off the top. Then, open the corkscrew part of the tool and twist it into the middle of the cork. I will say right here that actual cork corks and not plastic corks are somehow more satisfying for delving the corkscrew: I can feel the tip of the corkscrew piercing the little air holes in the cork—those very air holes that help age the wine. That doesn’t happen with the plastic corks, though I completely understand why wineries use them. (Must add that caveat.)
Once the corkscrew is firmly ensconced into the middle of the cork, kick out the “bottle rest” (I don’t know what it’s called, so I’ll name it that), the little piece that rests along the wine bottle lip for leverage. And use that leverage to ease the cork out of the bottle, with that delightful little POP! punctuating the end of the process.
Think I’m done?? NOPE! Now, pour a little bit into a glass and hold it to the light. Look at the color: for a white wine, is it green-ish? Roundly hay-colored? Over-the-hill orange? For red wines, is it a translucent crimson? An inky, almost-black deep red? Or brick colored? These things will tell you much about the varietal of the grape, how old the bottle is, and how it has been aged. Then, swirl the glass to release the volatile esters. And inhale. Stone fruit? Dried fruit? Cooked fruit? Grass? Vanilla? Cassis? Also indicative of the varietal, the kind of barrel it was aged in (if at all), and many other things.
Now, we finally get to drink some. Take a sip, curl your tongue’s sides to cup the wine and take in a little air to aerate the wine and release more esters.