Monthly Archives: July 2013

Tracy Lee Karner: 2011 Forster Kirchenstück Riesling inspires happiness

Somewhere, beyond the SeaThis is the fifth installment in my guest blogger series “Somewhere, Beyond the Sea”. For this post, I asked the author, life enjoy-er, honorary German (at least in my book), and good friend Tracy Lee Karner to contribute. I met Tracy through her blog, when, on a whim, I decided to comment on her post about whether blogging is just another cherry-berry pie in the sky back in August 2012. The ensuing conversation led to more contact, and by now I consider her and her husband Ken pretty much family. What I love about her blog is that you never know what to expect when you head over there. Sometimes it is writing advice, sometimes memorization help or language tips, and sometimes just plain fun. Tracy embraces life, and her blog shows it. Also, she is among my top commenters which says something about her commitment. Long story short: Go check out her blog. Thank you, Tracy!

Sometimes it's wine, sometimes it's water that makes us happy enough to yodel...

On a fine day in May, a good drink might make a person happy enough to yodel.

“Then, because of the [wine] and mostly and mainly because we were for that one moment in all time a group of truly happy people, we began to yodel.” (M.F.K. Fisher, H is for Happiness.)

I had spent an exceedingly fine May day with my husband, my dear friend Kai and his wife, with blue skies, wispy clouds, and apple-blossom scented sea breezes. Its magnificence echoed the last May day Kai and I had been together–same weather; same invigorating realization that the season of cooing doves and joyful air has sprung; same sweet and easy friendship.

The last time in 1979 in Hamburg, we were sixteen, walking, shopping, eating and talking, talking, trying not to mention that we didn’t know when or if we would ever see each other again. I was leaving soon to live the rest of my life in America.

In the present re-creation of that wonderful day, we again knew time was short. He and his wife would end their visit and return to Germany.

But for the moment we were together and blissful, gathered around a small marble-topped table in a cafe on Federal Hill in Providence, drinking cappuccino, sharing a lusciously layered chocolate torte. I resisted that urge to yodel because it would have annoyed the people who were there to buy fresh pasta, Italian cheese, salami or olives. Besides, I’m an incredibly poor yodler.

But I was that happy, I could have raised my voice in spontaneous, merry song.

The day ended as all such days end, with tearful embraces. And then they were gone.

We had our memories and a bottle of wine, 2011 Forster Kirchenstück Riesling Kabinett Trocken (dry) Deutscher (German) Prädikatswein (quality wine with specific attributes).

Before we opened it, I asked the amazing-riesling-expert Winegetter what should I know to appreciate this gift? He willingly shared his expertise, explaining that the grapes were grown in a 3-1/2 hectares vineyard behind the Forst village church on the wine road (that’s near Kai’s home).

Recently Ken and I opened the Forster Kirchenstück as an aperitif, according to Oliver’s suggestion.

Small bottle, long skinny neck with a too-long cork, unusually difficult to open (slightly annoying). I, however, was determined to love this wine. Kai gave it to us!

In the glass: Tinged the color of a nearly-ripe yet slightly green bartlet pear, so pale as to appear almost clear. Crystal transluscence.

Nose: Faint blossoms–apple & honeysuckle. Uncomplicated. Hint of fresh grass.

Mouth: Thinnish. Fresh, quick taste of tart apple, crisp mineral undertone, short lemon finish. I’d love this with fresh-shucked raw oysters.

Overall: Nice–but Ken found a flaw. On the middle-to-back sides of his tongue, a bitter-pucker sensation, the residue of green apple peels. Recommended therefore with some reservation. Less than perfect, but pleasant enough, drinkable and refreshing.

(Thank you, Stefano Crosio, for introducing me to the Italian Sommelier Association guidelines for wine review. I really like this 3-pronged method!)

More subjectively–and why I liked the wine despite the flaw: it opened a magical window into timelessness, taking me back to Germany, October 1978. I was telling Ken all the details, about picking grapes for a vineyard near Forster Kirchenstück and eating deliciously earthy, pit-roasted potatoes out of my hand, whole, with nothing but salt.

His turn to talk: in the twenty years of our marriage, he frequently mentioned his time as sous-chef at The Wagon Wheel Lodge, but had never before described the German butchers Heinrich and Albert who educated him about Riesling.

Albert looked something like a blond, not-quite-so-plump Ed Asner. Heinrich was taller, nearly six feet, with piercing pale blue eyes. Dark brown short, side-parted hair and a face not unlike Martin Luther’s.

Those were the guys who taught Ken sausage-making, and how to drink dry Riesling (with Weisswurst, or boiled cod, and sometimes with a dense white bread, toasted, topped with an egg poached medium).

With our next sip we, of course, drank to friendships–old and new.

So what do you think? Would you like this wine? And if not, is there a particular Riesling (or any wine) that could make you yodel like Franzl Lang? (you have to click here, really you have to hear happiness!)

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Sunday Read: Mature Wine vs. Young Wine. How Age Comes to Bear.

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You know I am a sucker for aged wines. I just love them, especially my beloved Rieslings. Wine changes a lot in the bottle, and any given day it will taste differently. But there is just something about these aged wines that draws me in, beside the history etc. I wrote about that a bit earlier, in my post called aged wines are like friends.

Sometime ago, I came across this short article about aged and young wines on the blog Eat, Love, Savor. It gives you a walk down of what the experience is from opening the aged bottle to drinking it. I liked the flow of the article, and it expressed my feelings rather well, which is why I decided to share it.

Have a wonderful Sunday, wherever you are!

Eat, Love, Savor: Mature wine vs. Young wine. How age comes to bear.

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A quick travel update from Vientiane

Dear friends, after a comment here and there, I wanted to just shoot out a quick travel update, letting you know all is well…I am so happy with my guest blogging series so far, and that you seem to enjoy the variety it brings. Thanks for continuously stopping by to read what my fellow bloggers have to say.

We spent the first week and a half of our trip in Thailand, in Bangkok and Chiang Mai to be exact. Bangkok was as overwhelming as we expected, so we opted for taking care of our jet lag by lounging along our friends’ swimming pool, taking in the great street food and getting accustomed to the heat and humidity. In Bangkok, we met up with two wine bloggers, the great James of The Wine Diaries, and my Trier-“buddy” Rainer and his wife (Rainer writes the excellent wine and food blog The Man From Mosel River). As it turned out, we partied very hard with James and his friend (I think we made it home around 3.30am or so) and then went to meet Rainer at 9.30am…and still managed to form coherent sentences. It was great meeting each of the two, and I encourage you to check out their blogs. Both have a nice perspective from South East Asia on wine which is enlightening.

From Bangkok we headed to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand where we stayed at a guest house a bit outside of the old city (HeyHa Guesthouse). Our hosts, Racha and Tee, were incredibly friendly and welcoming: upon arrival we were greeted with sweets and beer, later in the week they invited us to join them and friends for an epic Japanese BBQ that went on forever…then again later, we went clubbing with them and some other friends of theirs. I’ve never experienced such generous guesthouse owners, and we definitely want to go back. Chiang Mai has a great coffee culture and lots of culture. We ate a ton of street food, which was wonderful.

After an ordeal of a bus ride (we started one morning, switched to an overnight bus, and then arrived the next morning – mostly on unpaved dirt roads) we arrived in the ancient Lao kingdom town of Luang Prabang. This was a true stunner: temples, a palace, and a ton of French colonial buildings on a small peninsula that was formed by the Mekong river and another river joining it. French culture is still very prominent and we had a bunch of baguettes, croissants, pastries and you name it. I was sick for a couple of days, which sucked, but I was able to post-celebrate my birthday on our last day with a good breakfast, a spa treatment (which became even better when the monks in the temple across the street started making music…) and then an epic dinner in one of the best French restaurants in Laos. Their version of Coq au vin was the best I have had of this dish ever…

Taking the day bus South to Vientiane, the capital, took us 12 hours for 384 kilometers. The landscape was stunning though: steep, steep mountains and hills, lush forests, and the Mekong always with us. Photos cannot capture this beauty. Vientiane does not seem to offer much to explore, so we are heading further south to Pakse, the other old capital of one of the three kingdoms that went to form what is Laos today. From there, we will head down the Mekong to 4000 Islands, a group of islands in the river, to chill a bit before we enter into Cambodia.

So how are we feeling two weeks in, you may wonder? We’re missing Thai food for sure (Lao food seems more bland), but I am happy for the bread culture here. We think the north of Thailand and Laos are absolutely worth your time, even if you are beach bunny. We are actually looking forward to Cambodia, where the food should be more interesting again and everything reportedly a bit cheaper, too. This has been a great trip so far, and we are full of impressions and ideas, and are feeling blessed for being able to do this.

(Somehow, I am having problems getting some of my photos into here, so I beg your pardon for making this a text only update…)

Until soon! I hope your summer is great wherever you spend it.

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