Last Thursday I attended a Slow Foods new member wine tasting (and mixer, I suppose) at Cofalos Wine Cellar in Coconut Grove. I asked the organizer about the new member part and she told me that the invitees, seventy-some of us, joined in the last nine months. That's a heck of a lot of new members, paticularly considering that the convivium's full membership, she confided, is only around 150. Plus, one guy there was in the process of starting up two new chapters in central Florida. That's impressive growth and I wonder if it is just one energetic person stirring things up or if, for some reason, now is just the right time for Slow Food in Florida. Looking through the Chowhound.com Florida message board archives reveals years of whining about South Florida's philistine ways without much to set this year apart.
But back to the wine tasting. I didn't take any pictures; I didn't want to be _that_ guy. Sorry. Cefalos' wine director selected a couple of reds and a couple of whites all around $12/bottle. The average price in the shop looked to be more like $60, but since $12 bottle are what I actually buy it was fine by me. The concept he was going for was that all four of the wines matched well with the Itallian meat, cheese and olives they provided. That worked pretty successfully. I think that might have surprised some of the folks there, but I've always been ecumenical when matching wine to deli plates.
The reds I didn't think were anything special, but the whites were interesting. The Terra Andina Sauvignon Blanc had a lot more citrus and less grassiness than I expect from that grape. The director said that that's typical of the Chilean version so I'll have to keep an eye out for those. I've been wary of Chilean wines in general due to a few bad early experiences, but I really shouldn't rule out a whole country like that. The other white was Monte Nova Godello. Godello is a Spanish grape I wasn't familiar with. The wine was very crisp and almost bitter with a very short finish. The director described it as a good sipping wine, but I found it too harsh to drink on its own. I did like the way it cut through the fatty meats and cheeses, though.
After a while, the director brought out an $80 bottle for us to try. It was an Italian Amarone blend made specifically for the shop by Masi. The point of interest was that it was made by leaving the grapes out in the sun on mats for a few days to concentrate the juices (kind of like ice wines are concentrated). Knowing that beforehand, you could sense it in the rich mouth feel. It was pretty nice, but not $80 nice. Maybe $40 nice.
As for the mixer part of the evening: eh. I'm not good with crowd noise so I tend to linger on the fringes at parties. That means I mostly meet the exuberant folks glad-handing their way around and the hired help. As a rule, I prefer the help.
I get the sense that a lot of the people who join Slow Foods, rather than just attending the dinners, are behind it as a movement. I've got nothing against that, but I'm in it for more selfish reasons. I don't want to change the world; I just want all that good food available for me. The people who want to talk to me about how they're setting up vegetable gardens at schools or their dream of growing organic rutabegas make me as uncomfortable as if they wanted to talk to me about my relationship with Jesus. I really need to find a group of avowed generalists and dilletants where everyone is as half-heartedly enthusiastic as I am.