What do viticulture, and the high culture of the fine arts have in common? Well, fine wine, of course!
That commonality was celebrated in Oenophilia Gone Wild, otherwise known as the Market Street Wine Club, in its monthly-themed gathering, this time at Amarillo’s Ashmore Inn.
Founded in 2000 by Hobby Kuehnast, United Market Street’s Wine Steward and Certified Wine Educator, the wine club now has a closed membership, all associates zealously guarding their privilege of regularly getting together to sample the wines and tastes of the season as much as Hispanic grandmothers guard their mole recipes.
This particular seasonal observance, as if one needs an excuse to drink decent wine, was the New Mexico Green Chili harvest, which also provided an opportunity to sample some of the forty new mid-range wines: emphasis on “sample some.”
The non-dessert items featured, surprise, green chilis! There was green chili meatloaf, green chili mashed potatoes, and dinner salad with green chili dressing, which was quite good. This being the southwest, green chilis are the ubiquitous condiment, and demonstrate congenial pairing with both reds and whites.
The new arrivals included labels from California, Texas and Argentina, a few of which were noted before the palette became benumbed to discernment. The menu slanted my choices to the reds: perhaps I’ve arrived at a level of wine snobbery, but white wine with chili-spiced meatloaf inspired a gag reflex.
A Mendoza Malbec, Don Nican, has a bite up front but then mellows over the course. Similarly, a Cabernet Sauvignon from Kinker Winery in Paso Robles has a nuanced announcement, but then travels very well.
There was no ambiguity in Messina Black, a meritage from Messina Hof Winery in Bryan, Texas. This was just solid over the whole run, standing well against the entree.
The biggest surprise for me was the Layer Cake Bourbon Barrel Cab. I’ve always pejoratively aligned Layer Cake with its nominally-similar Cupcake: now I’ll have to revise (only slightly) any prejudice, admitting that bourbon makes a good seasoning agent for an oaken cask red varietal.
Alas, the liability of the kid-in-the-candy store syndrome for wine aficionados: so many wines, so little time, and there’s getting home.
Amarillo, in the middle of the Texas High Plains, might be the last place to expect a legitimate gathering of oenophiles. But, thanks to Hobby, United Market Street and its management, this association of connoisseurs is approaching its third decade.
And, thanks to generous and dedicated patronage, the appreciation for fine wine, like the fine arts, thrives up here in Cowboy Country. That’s why we toast, in either red or white, the upcoming arts season and say “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!”