Wine, Words & Wednesday, No. 42

Anthony Bourdain is an unabashed hedonist.  A skosh caustic and brutally honest, he’s also eminently quotable, and often hilarious.  Because he says stuff like this:  “Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn.”  And this (about garlic):  “Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screw-top jars.  Too lazy to peel fresh?  You don’t deserve to eat garlic.”

I hope you’re not a vegan who likes jarred garlic.

So, when the latest issue of Wine Spectator magazine arrived in my mailbox with Anthony Bourdain on the cover, I knew I’d be in for a good read.  However, the quote of the article doesn’t belong to Bourdain, but to Wine Spectator editor-at-large, Harvey Steiman.  The two were lunching at Ristorante Morini in New York City.  The wine list arrives, and Steiman hands it to Bourdain, who bristles and says, “Oh no, that will be your department.”  Bourdain claims he doesn’t know anything about wine (I’m throwing some serious side-eye on that claim), so Steiman tries to get a feel for what Bourdain likes in a wine.  Bourdain is having steak and pasta with a Bolognese, so they settle on a red.  But which red?

And that’s when Bourdain offers, “I don’t like big Bordeaux anymore.  That’s a side of the spectrum I’m getting away from as I get older.  I’m moving toward trashier, rougher Côtes du Rhone, wildly unpredictable Burgundies, and regional wines of Italy that I have absolutely no idea what the hell they are except they’re from someplace I’m interested in.”

Right.  He doesn’t know anything about wine.

So Steiman whittles it down further, asking Bourdain,

Funk-or-fruitSteiman just distilled the entire red wine world down to three words.  Yes, there’s much more to red wine that just funk or fruit, but I love the simplicity, the lack of pretense.  It’s a question I’ll keep in my back pocket for the next time someone asks me to recommend a “good red wine” (a nearly impossible task without knowing what someone likes in a wine).

And Bourdain’s answer?  “Either way.”

Steiman then selects Ar.Pe.Pe Valtellina 1995 — a Nebbiolo from Lombardy, in Northern Italy, near the border with Switzerland.  Steiman says it’s “a mature red with a lovely sense of refinement and precision.”  I had never heard of Ar.Pe.Pe before, so I looked it up on (because I’m curious that way).  There are no 1995s available, but the more recent vintages of this wine are about $12ish in Italy, and $35ish in the US.  If you want the riserva, add another $10ish to the price tag.  Honestly, I expected a fancy Wine Spectator editor and a world famous chef to end up with something a lot more flashy (read: rare and expensive). It’s kind of refreshing that they went with something more attainable for wine-drinking mortals (aka me).

So, wine friends, what say you?



  1. ArPePe is one of my favorite producers of Valtellina Superiore. If you do a quick search on my blog you will find three posts with a description of the wine region (Valtellina), an interview to their winemaker (Isabella Pellizzatti Perego) and tasting notes of part of their lineup. For $35 in the US you can get their base, entry-level wine, which is good but honestly not that exciting. What you want to taste to really understand mountain Nebbiolo (locally known as Chiavennasca) is their Riservas: my favorite is the Rocce Rosse (around 70 bucks), then the Ultimi Raggi (about $80 vinified with dried grapes, kind of like Amarone style), the single-vineyard Vigna Regina (also around $80) and the Buon Consiglio (about $85). I had the Buon Consiglio 2001 a couple nights ago at dinner and was delicious – by the way, in Europe they are definitely less expensive than in the US 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I should have known you would know about this one, Stefano!! Thank you so much for the information. I’ve never heard anyone refer to Nebbiolo regionally as “mountain Nebbiolo”. Love that. I had been on the bubble about ordering myself a bottle of ArPePe, but armed with this info, now I think I will. Salud, Stefano!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Bourdain. When I first started drinking wine (which admittedly wasn’t too long ago), I liked simple wines, but now I go for pretty much everything except simple. The first time I had a really funky wine, I sat there for the entire meal trying to figure it out, which was what I liked about it!

    Liked by 1 person

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