One of the perks of having a German (ahem, Bavarian) roommate is that he’s quite knowledgeable about beer. I’m more of a wino myself, so I’m only too happy to defer to his judgment, always excellent, on German beers. (Then again, I can’t not defer, lest I want stormtroopers to take over my living room.)
That being said, Alex the Roommate decided we should have an Oktoberfeast™ where we would feature delicious German foods, beers, and spirits. Our Berkeley friend Waiching was gracious enough to provide her apartment (and her large dinner table and large number of chairs) for the feast. Alex invited two friends from his work and I invited one of my Berkeley friends, Mia, and her boyfriend. That made for a small but wonderful dinner party of seven.
This isn’t an entry about Oktoberfeast™, however; I did want to mention that Alex outdid himself by making from scratch traditional German fare such as Blaukraut (“blue cabbage”, which is made from red cabbage, red onion, raisins, and apple and seasoned with things like nutmeg and bay leaves) and putting together a three-course beer menu, the highlight of which were incredibly potent “smoke beers” from Schlenkerla. The first variety was their Märzen, a “dark, bottom fermented smokebeer, brewed with . . . Smokemalt”; the second, which I had, was an even more intense Urbock, “[s]imilar to, but much bigger than the classic [Märzen] style.” The Märzen smelled of smoked gouda, declared Waiching, but my Urbock smelled of a richly-smoked cut of bacon. They were very unusual but very delicious and well-crafted. We followed up the beers with some William Christ Pear Brandy, an intoxicating spirit straight from Germany. Utterly redolent of pear on the nose, it had a hint of sweetness and coated the mouth wonderfully. It had a slow, steady burn deep in the stomach and helped me digest my huge, huge meal.
But that was later in the evening. Earlier, Alex was at home making the Blaukraut and getting everything ready, and I went to Whole Foods to take care of the sausage. For most of his life Alex was a vegetarian (even when he was in Germany!) so he usually delegates matters of meat selection and preparation to me. I got a variety of different bratwurst, pork, and chicken sausages, as well as a package of Tofurky Beer Brats (for one of our guests, the sole vegetarian in the group). Of course, I also browsed the wine selection while I was there.
In mind as I browsed were the wise words of one of the wine consultants at Kermit Lynch, Steve Waters: “My favorite part of dinner is the couple glasses of wine I have while preparing the meal.” What better way to prepare for the dinner and cook sausages than have a few glasses of wine? Because the weather here in DC has been cold and rainy (for like five straight days!) I was looking for a bottle of the absolutely excellent 2007 Le Pigeoulet en Provence, a Vin de Pays from the esteemed Brunier family. This wine seems a bit pricey for a Vin de Pays–it’s anywhere from $17.99 to $21.00–but it’s worth it.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any in stock, but I saw this instead:
(Thanks to Poor Man’s Feast for this picture!)
This 2008 Vin de Pays du Vaucluse from Domaine de Durban, a combination of I believe grenache and syrah, was blended and bottled especially for Kermit Lynch and was only $8.99–at Whole Foods, no less. This seemed to fit Mr. Waters’s description of a nice, simple, and relatively low-alcohol wine to drink while cooking.
This was a very light-bodied red, with pronounced acidity. Waiching didn’t like the acidity, but I liked it. It was clean, straightforward, and whet my appetite. There was some cranberry and a bit of pepper to this, not much of a finish nor much tannin, but it was not insipid, either. It was the type of wine to drink glasses of, to swirl around in the mouth and enjoy. It was good alone but would also be good, probably with some coq au vin or even heartier fishes. This is the sort of stuff you should buy by the case (and drink by the bottle).