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When the Wife Is Away ...

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Sep 28, 2007 11:07am ET

Nancy is out of town this week—letting off some steam down in Miami with her girlfriends. She’s left me to wrestle with the kids in the morning and at night. The fridge has a few containers of microwavable dinners to sustain me until she gets back.

So in protest, my buddy Greg (his wife has left him to join Nancy until Sunday) and I decided to hit the town ourselves last night. Some might call it a "man date." We called it a "protest dinner."

We had dinner at Fr.og, where Didier Virot has moved after his long run at Aix. Virot is as knowledgeable about wine as he is on food—a rarity I think among chefs. At Fr.og, Virot is fashioning contemporary cuisine with strong Moroccan and Vietnamese influences: A starter of shrimp with harissa and pistachio worked perfectly with a bottle of the Domaine de Bellivière Jasnières Les Rosiers 2004, a superb Chenin Blanc that features lots of ginger and cardamom notes on a chiseled frame.

“You’re the only one who ever orders this wine,” quipped Virot when he stopped by our table. Hey, I’ve been touting the Loire in my coverage for years. Can’t blame me if no one’s listening.

For the main course, Greg was worried his cod with a shallot crust and chanterelle bouillon wouldn’t be red-wine friendly (I got the beef marinated with mixed peppercorn and spices, so no problem there), but that’s what I like about Virot’s cooking so much: All his dishes are made to go with wine. The flesh of the cod absorbed the shallots while the mushrooms worked just fine with a bottle of Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas Les Ruchets 1997.

When we were finished, it was still a bit early, and with our wives calling on the cell phone just to say hello from some dance club in Miami, we weren’t about to be the first ones to turn in. So we stopped in at Cru on the way back up town. The wine list there seems to be growing exponentially, with mind-bogglingly comprehensive listings of Burgundy forming the centerpiece of the list.

We wanted something with age on it, and we decided to keep the Rhône theme going, and a bottle of E. Guigal Hermitage 1983 looked like a bargain. 1983 is a tannic, rugged year, and while the wine had lovely mature aromas, it still packed a chewy wallop on the palate, a worthy nightcap in my book. Greg was grooving on it too. He’s a self-professed Burgundy freak, but I’m winning him over to the Rhône bottle by bottle.

Alas, by then we had to let our respective nannies go home, so we called it a night. But we do it secure in the knowledge that our protest was a successful one, at least to us.

Phil Talamo
Bron, NY —  September 28, 2007 2:20pm ET
James - how was the hangover?...that's a lot of wine (yes, I am jealous). Quick question - I am thinking of bringing a bottle or three on my honeymoon in Aruba (resort where we are staying is low-key, poor wine list). Should I play it safe and just bring white? I would think it "travels" better than red. thanks
James Molesworth
September 28, 2007 2:27pm ET
Phil: A flight really shouldn't hurt the wines that much...if they're older reds, just stand them up when you get there to let any sediment settle as much as possible, but be prepared to decant...
Kevin Lewis
Baltimore,MD —  September 29, 2007 10:03am ET
James-Nice to see that there are marriages out there with a nice foundation of trust..As it should be! With your appetizer would you ever consider a sparkling?Phil-I have a travel case for a six pack that is no bigger than a small carry on...it is on wheels and fits nicely in the overhead..You should take a look before you leave.. Cheers!
Ashley Potter
LA, —  October 1, 2007 3:16am ET
James,My wife Ashley (the one who's name always appears on my posts) and I have specifically elected not to bring bottles of wine on flights, fearing that the cargo area isn't pressurized and/or temperature controlled. Was your response to Phil predicated on being able to bring the bottles in the cabin as carry-ons, or do you think the [presumably] cold temperatures and the [possible] lack of pressure-control in the cargo area don't adversely affect wines? I would greatly appreciate your response, as I often find myself hesitating to buy at out-of-state wine shops for fear of ruining the bottles during flight. Thanks.Sincerely, Brian Grafstrom
J J Gallagher
Near Napa, Ca —  October 1, 2007 8:52am ET
My understanding is that no liquid over 6 ounces is allowed as carry on.As for the cargo area, we bring wine as luggage frequently and so long as they rest after travel, they have been fine. After all, most wine has traveled to get most places, right??
James Molesworth
October 1, 2007 9:10am ET
Kevin: A sparkler would've been interesting as well...but at just $49, that Jasnieres is way too good to pass up...
John Osgood
New York, NY —  October 1, 2007 9:44am ET
Ashley - I recently traveled from New York to Bonaire for a week of great diving. I brought a few bottles of wine in my checked baggage as did my buddy from Chicago. No problems at all with the wine when we got there. They drank perfectly and the guests at our dive resort were given a taste of the wines and they were plenty impressed.
Jim Mcclure
DFW, Texas —  October 1, 2007 3:03pm ET
For extra security and protection for checked wines, what about a sealed and padded case? Pelican makes some high quality cases with cutout foam inserts. The seal should provide some pressure protection, the case and foam some insulation for temperature, and it would protect your bottles from just about any impact it would encounter along the way. These are used all the time in transporting photographic and sensitive electronic equipment.
Phil Talamo
Bron, NY —  October 3, 2007 2:59pm ET
thanks for the tips on transporting wine. I will look into some luggage options.
Ashley Potter
LA, —  October 4, 2007 7:07pm ET
Thanks to all who've chimed in with tips and experiences regarding transporting wine on airplanes! Sincerely, Brian Grafstrom

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