>Chefs Have Awful Taste in Wine

>It’s true.

I’ve worked for a CIA-trained chef in California who drank 375’s of Port like a little girl – yeah, he drank 10 at a click and would end up shooting someone in the ass with a BB gun, but still.

Your Pegasus called, little girl, it would like you to brush its glorious mane.

Another chef, a nationally acclaimed sushi savant, favored Rosenblum Zinfandel when I met him. He’s since graduated, but with a slow and painstaking babystepping that he probably never, ever had to endure in his Japanese food training.

Just because you’ve got a preternatural sense for fish doesn’t mean you’re ready for Burgundy, Daniel-sahn.

The third chef…forget it. Beer. I love good beer, but this is about wine.

So when I come across shit like this:

“Chef Kent (Rathbun, of Dallas fame and Austin jeering) Recommends”

I wet myself with glee. Let’s look at the flavor/texture profiles of his favorite wines, yes?

Amayna, Chardonnay, Leyda Valley, Chile 2006
Domaine Chandon, étoile , Rosé, Sonoma-Napa County
MacMurray Ranch, Pinot Gris, Sonoma Coast
Patz and Hall, Chardonnay, Alder Springs Vineyard, Rutherford
Roederer Estate, Brut, Anderson Valley NV
Rubicon Estate, Roussanne-Viognier-Marsanne, Blancaneaux, Rutherford
St. Supéry, Sémillon-Sauvingnon [sic] Blanc, Virtú, Napa Valley

So from this, I take it this guy’s bag is a giant bucket of buttered popcorn topped with oak chips and a copy of Wine Spectator with which he can wipe his glistening craw.

Not a single Old-World-style wine among them, which has become, for me, synonymous with a lighter, better balanced, often subtler experience.

If I had more time and weren’t just writing this to blow off steam between tasks on my steps-to-fucking-Shangri-La-sized to-do list, I’d thoughtfully consider the notion that chefs’ palates suffer from an eventual blanding – a phenom that explains why so many guests find things saltier than the chef can taste. Anyone out there know the results of studies done to this effect? Like I said, I’m busy with an actual job. Let the geeks do the work and spittle all over my shirt while they tell me about it.

His red selection is even worse. I won’t go into it.

The point of this instruction today is: Don’t give a fucking rat’s ass what the chef likes to drink. If it were up to him, he’d be passed out in the walk-in with an empty case of cherry Robitussin and an underaged Thai hooker.


About emc

Out beyond any ideas of right-doing and wrongdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you in it.
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6 Responses to >Chefs Have Awful Taste in Wine

  1. Frank says:

    >Heh-this is the same chef that got called out publicly by the AA-S during a beer/food pairing at Central Market (during 'Brewtopia') for not knowing shit about the beers he was talking about.

  2. emc says:

    >Rathbun? That's awesome – based on his never-changing menu of haphazardly executed Greatest Hits from the '90s, I'd venture he doesn't know shit about food, either. It's especially funny when chefs brag about beating Bobby Flay in any cooking contest that didn't include duck breast and a barbecue-citrus mole.

  3. Porkroll. says:

    Please. When did Rathbun start speaking for chefs as a whole? The man is known for “elevated” fried chicken for fuck’s sake! What does Keller drink, or Adria, or even Bourdain?

    Furthermore, when did any other person’s opinion really matter when it comes to the wines we drink? In such a subjective forum, that of taste in general, can it ever be prudent to take an other person’s advice? Really? I hate flabby new world wines as well, however, that is only my opinion.

    To me, it seems worse somehow to vilify any other person’s preferences than it is to simply like the cheap or “bad” shit.

    Wine snobs, or any other snobs, can all go stuff themselves. If you fuckers weren’t such putrid asses the juice would be a hell of a lot more popular.

    I realize that blogdom is really just a venting of overly self important nitwits sharing their unsolicited opinions, but geez, can’t we have a modicum of sensibility? A teency-weency bit of perspective?

    This post was utter shite. It’s reader’s, hopefully, can think for themselves, otherwise, they are doomed.

    Get off of your soap box. People like what they like, don’t try to be the arbiter of good taste, as you ar just a pesky wench at best.

    • emc says:

      Oh, here we go. We’re going to trot out that old attempt to equate an indictment of poorly made, cynically conceived wines – and the curious predilection of chefs with otherwise great palates to be drawn to them – with being a “wine snob.”

      Okay, I’ll humor you, if only so that others may benefit. Here’s why your theory doesn’t work: if some douchey frat boy were blaring Creed while heading to the new Michael Bay film, it’s very likely that you’d have no problem with me criticizing his taste in entertainment.

      You claim it’s just terrible to “vilify” someone’s taste – you would prefer a monochromatic spectrum of sensibilities in which all people, regardless of their preferences, are patted on the head just for having them? Horseshit. You earn your preferences. I look at the horrible things I liked to drink when I was 21 and I gag with shame. (Midori sours, man. Seriously, that’s fucked up.) But I liked Midori sours because I hadn’t yet exposed my palate to subtler, more refined flavors and textures. It’s exactly the same with wine – many people don’t know wine doesn’t need to taste like Dr. Pepper syrup being poured out of an oak tree. Because subtler, more refined wines are just not widely available in supermarkets, gas stations, and on shitty wine lists, which is where most people are getting their wine exposure. Why? Advertising dollars. Do you think that McDonald’s is an acceptable mode of eating – even with everything we know understand about food and its origins – simply because it’s more common and has more money with which to promote itself? People are being essentially sold a bad bill of goods, where wine is concerned – and attitudes like yours don’t help move the conversation forward. To be fair, neither do some of my blog posts. They’re there to make me and the 13 other people who read it laugh with recognition of common industry-related headaches that we can’t express at our jobs.

      And, hey, if you read all my posts, you might see a through line that demonstrates both a frustration with the current trends, as well as a sincere interest in turning people on to things that no one is really helping them find (no publications filled with glossy advertisements, anyway). But “nitwits sharing their unsolicited opinions” is certainly a much more complex and thoughtful analysis. Thank you for that.

      And you’re HEROICALLY wrong about this being a “subjective forum.” Wine, like any product, is utterly subject to objective criticism: is it balanced, is it well-made, is it reeking of factory-fabricated oak…the list goes on. If you don’t understand how this is done or what constitutes an objective judgment of wine, I suggest starting with Eric Asimov’s weekly NY Times wine column. It’s approachable and salient, which my blog will not be.

      Also, when you say “when did any other person’s opinion really matter when it comes to the wines we drink?” it demonstrates a total, yet understandable ignorance of the world we live in. You know whose taste matters? Robert Parker’s. In fact, it matters so much, that the very wines I’m ridiculing are made specifically to please The Wine Advocate’s Mr. Parker, who is notoriously drawn only to jammy, blow-hard, overly alcoholic wines. Which is why the cheap and lazy bastards make it like that, which is why most people are only exposed to it, which is why they think they like it, etc, etc…in other words, you’re living in the dark shadow of one man’s taste, and you have no idea.

      Last, it’s tempting to sneer “fuck the elitists” – we see Fox News do it constantly. But it only makes you look defensive and insecure about something. Don’t be! You dislike flabby, New World wine! You’re surely a reasonable person. And thanks for giving me the chance to clarify my post.

      – Pesky Wench

      • Porkroll. says:

        Mainly my issue is with your insinuating that because Rathbun drinks shit all chef’s drink shit. It’s just plain insulting to a goodly amount of perfectly reasonable chefs.

        Also, though I still won’t have any of it for me, I bet those wines he suggested pair much better with his equally flabby food than would a subtler old world wine. It’s reasonable, if not particularly desirable overall. What that poor bastard’s food would do to my poor Montrachet is beyond the pale.

        I think your retort has raised some fine points, and while I will politely disagree (this time around,) I think it is important to point out that Robert Parker’s opinion is of utterly no use to me, as is Wine Spectator as a whole., other than to serve as a basic guide of things to avoid. I guess, I do agree with you there.

        Also, I agree that wine can be objectively graded, and perhaps even that it should be, but that that process is ultimately subjective to the individuals preferences. Those preferences can not be wrong, only different. In the end, no matter how much you and I might agree that fine Burgundy is infinitely more desirable than a California butter bomb, we needn’t impose our feelings on others. I don’t want them drinking up all the good stuff anyway.

        In the end, drink what you like, so long as your paying for it… if not, can it.


  4. emc says:

    I disagree with two premises in your response: 1) that this blog is an imposition of my wine preferences on other people – it’s really a place for me to vent about the really ass-backwards attitude about wine and food in America, which is that if it tastes good, that is its own merit. How I dealt with people when I was standing in front of them with a wine list was with a great deal of patience and care. This particular post is annoying because it’s extreme – I’m okay with honoring my extreme view because when I was a server and restaurant critic, I was pelted with so many disheartening experiences where the wine-drinking public was concerned. Those disheartening experiences came about as a result of a certain ignorance that is supported and nurtured by silly things like Rathbun’s gross wine suggestions – then I digressed because, come to think of it, every chef I’d worked with had a remarkably New World-oriented palate. If I were publishing a paper or an essay on the subject, I might go about it in a more arbitrary and academic manner. As it is, it’s a blog. Some of my blog entries are small missives to the world to change; some, like this, are just musings. You have every right to challenge me, and I welcome the discourse, but it’s really not an imposition. I’m neither widely read nor a policy-maker. Threat Level Is Negative Eleventy.

    2) I wasn’t insinuating all chefs drink bad wine, as indicated by Rathbun. See above answer for what this was really about. Titles can and should be titillating. They get discussions like these going. I really am genuinely interested in culling more info about what chefs tend to drink – as I pointed out, even really great chefs I’ve worked with have seemed to exhibit a preference for giant, jammy wines. Maybe there’s something physiological there of interest (like how palates tend to become inured to salt after a while – or maybe not). But how dare I even raise the question! How dare I even classify taste, in the first place!

    Also, I don’t think you got what I was saying about Robert Parker. We’re on the same page. (Except it’s really not Mr. Parker’s fault – he has tried to tell people “hey, I’m just one palate.” I don’t owe the public any such apology. Not yet. When I invent a scoring system that cheapens wine and further drives us away from introducing so-called “Collectors” to funky, amazing wines with no scores, then I can try for more responsibility.)

    In the end, I care about what you’re drinking because if everyone stops drinking the wines of the 4th and 5th-generation winemakers in France, Italy, Spain, and Germany, we risk losing an irreplaceable artisanal product and culture. We’ve already seen this happen in Spain, where traditional winemaking has begun to give way en masse to Wine Spectator scores and Parker-pleasing practices like micro-oxygenation, industrial designer yeasts, and a number of other intrusions. Consider me an activist. A conservationist. A lousy one, to be sure. But a sincere and passionate one whose heart is in the right place and who is alarmed at what she perceives to be a threat to great art.

    I take it you’re a chef, and so I’ll take the time to compliment you on your awareness of subtler, traditional wines and guess that you’re not a chef in Texas or Southern California. Come on – for posterity! I must know.

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