Wine, Bread and Terroir

   The wine world is driven by tales. There are tales about wines and, I swear, wine with tails. A common tale most wine stories share is that terroir matters. A little “highbrow” for me, and I suspect I’m not alone.

   If you can’t make head or tail of it, think about terroir as the difference that seems to make a difference. Winemaker and blogger Randall Grahm hits the bull’s-eye again. Can we then go further and say that bread has its own terroir too?

   Dig deeper and it grows gloomier. Mercifully, this is where Jonathan Nossiter comes in. His 2004 film, “Mondovino,” a dark comedy about wines of our times, is a unique piece of a winespeak. His latest book, “Liquid Memory” is no less ambitious. Most wine books maintain a sulky silence on non-wine related subjects. Nossiter gets the bigger picture. His discussion of terroir in life, cinema and wine, flashes by in a handful of pages. He claims that the fight for terroir in our life is a battle for individuality, for the right to preserve our expression of diversity. Above all, it is all about our right to maintain cultural identity. There is no doubt that bread and wine are the subjects of this crusade.

   In order to speak terroir, both wine and bread are usually made in small batches. It allows a winemaker and a baker to have control over the process of preserving the product’s identity. Artisan wine, and artisan bread, are messengers of a simple truth: “You will remember me because I help you see the difference.”

   At Binny’s we can help you taste the difference, too.

   When the Easter season approaches, cooks all over the world prepare special baked goods. Jews have their matzah on the night of the Passover dinner, Christians bake rich yeast-raised breads, full of milk, butter and eggs. There are unique Italian Easter breads, pan dolce from Genoa, full of pine nuts, raisins and candied fruit peel, and Umbria’s cheese-flavored crescia. Germans and Austrians make several versions of striezel (stacked braided bread) and osterzopf (Easter braid). Poles and Bulgarians have a rich bread-like cake called babka in Poland and kozunak in Bulgaria; the Czechs bake Easter buns velikonocni pecivo.

   Binny’s in Niles holds the wine list to the perfect Easter brunch, and on April 14, we  will partner with Oak Mill Bakery in an event that promises plenty of pleasant surprises to your Easter basket. This will definitely be a unique wine tasting as you will be able to sample not only special wines, but also several varieties of Easter breads and many other European-style baked specialties. A true Easter egg hunt for adults, or should I say a true “terroir hunt” for adults!

   Lots of fun on the nose, with a noticeable hint of terroir on palate.

 

- Jarek Lewandowski is a wine manager at the Niles Binny’s.

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