For me, as for many who are into wine, Kermit Lynch's Adventures on the Wine Route is a seminal book. Lynch, of course, is the famous Berkeley-based wine importer, merchant, and author (and recording artist).
As an importer, his influence cannot be overstated. In the 1970s he introduced the nation to the entire technicolor world of French wine, bringing in for the first time many small producers who are now considered titans of their regions. Lynch made his name as one of the first to argue loudly for unadulterated wines of terroir and for the fundamental connection between wine and food. His Francophilia is no doubt one of the reasons we're having discussions such as this recent one about whether sommeliers ignore Californian wines in favor of the Old World.
But I also argue the primacy of Lynch's influence as a writer. Through his rich descriptions of peregrinations in France, countless meals and tastings in countless cellars, I learned not only about the wines themselves, but how to think about wine and how to write about it. And I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Lynch's unvarnished opinions and his simple but evocative descriptions of both people and wine makes for—I can't exactly describe why—irresistible reading.
It is in this spirit on a Friday afternoon—and because there's nothing quite as quietly inspiring and hunger-inducing as Kermit Lynch's prose (I'm now craving oysters and Muscadet)--that I link to a recent diary he posted on NY Magazine's food page about a few days in New York. It's classic Lynch, novel and yet sometimes frustrating: His complaints about Peter Luger's steakhouse are so commonplace, but also hilarious when coming from him; and his promotion of his own wines is relentless. Nevertheless, the piece abounds with Lynchian gems:
- "I can’t have a white without a red to follow. Just like I can’t drink a red unless I’ve already had some white!"
- "We started with a big variety of oysters that were well shelled and well chilled. It’s amazing how often you find oysters that are neither. We had a Muscadet with the oysters. Just about all I want to drink with oysters: Muscadet and Chablis."
- "And by the way, we know that Thomas Jefferson had wine with breakfast, too. Three meals a day with wine! If I ate breakfast, I’d probably have a glass of wine."
- "I sometimes order a wine and only have one glass, just to see what’s inside and then leave the rest of it. And sometimes, we drain the bottle!"
I hope you enjoy it and that you might have a bottle of Coche-Dury, Thierry Allemand, Domaine Tempier, Marcel Lapierre (all Kermit Lynch wines) in your future.