As, let’s say, “serious amateur” wine-enthusiasts, we’re always on the hunt for events and activities that’ll help us build our wine knowledge. Fortunately, our wine bar spirit animals over at Allegheny Wine Mixer are (as always) on point, on the scene — on fleek, if you will. (I won’t, but you can; why not?)
A couple weeks back, we had the pleasure of attending a special event at AWM called Monday Night RAW, a tasting and education evening hosted by Justin Scappaticci of Artisan’s Cellar and focused entirely on all-natural wines. What does all-natural mean, you might wonder? Isn’t all wine natural? Or is this Sutter Home White Zin I’m chugging from a Camelback 3D-printed? (It’s not, but stop it, for goodness’ sake!)
At the most basic, natural wines are wines that are organic and biodynamic, free of most (or all) chemical additives, and crafted by embracing the quirks of the growing and fermentation process, not fighting to pave them over. You could say that natural winemaking is less about the winemaker’s ego, and more about telling the story of the grapes, of the soil they grew in, of the year they were plucked. All of this yields wine that can vary greatly from vintage to vintage, even from the same vineyard…but isn’t that a lot of the fun of it all? (Not to mention that the wines are a bit lower in alcohol, meaning you can have more, and much lower in sulfites, meaning no wine hangovers from said more!)
For this tasting, we were given six wines to try, each paired with an appropriate cheese. While Justin walked around, giving us information and backstory about each wine and its makers, we sipped, nibbled, and took notes. The flavors were pretty diverse; for instance, one wine — the Ryme Carignane, Testa Vineyard — had this neat leathery, butterscotchy thing going on (trust us, it’s good), while at the other end of the spectrum, the Partida Creus V N Vinel-lo Blanco was almost briny, like you were having it out in the sea air (Fox called it “the yacht rock of white wines,” which is actually high praise).
We learned a lot about how each winemaker plies their craft, even down to which ones foot-stomp their grapes — and why. It turns out that it’s not just a gimmick; foot-stomping is much more gentle than mechanical crushing, meaning that it results in less crushed stems and broken seeds, both of which can affect the flavor of the wine.
Now, if you’re anything like us, after you’ve had six wines (even just tasting portions), you feel a little more hunger than even the most delicious slivers of cheese can satisfy. Fortunately, AWM thought ahead, providing a freaking Mac n Cheese and hotdog bar!
As it turns out…that briny wine? It pairs amazingly with a delicious hot dog. (And yes, if you’re wondering, our wine notebook does have a custom cover with pictures of places we’ve tasted wine on it. What of it? We’re nerds.)
Ahem. All I mean to say is that this was a great event, so keep your eye out for more stuff held at Allegheny Wine Mixer. They’re great people with great wine, and they also give great Twitter.
Oh baby we like it raw! Tix for our Monday Night RAW natural wine tasting w/ Justin Scappaticci still available!https://t.co/l4ynjPONid
— Allegheny Wine Mixer (@AlghnyWineMixer) February 19, 2017
(I mean, natural wine, pro wrestling, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard stuffed into 140 characters? There’s something for everyone.)
Allegheny Wine Mixer is located on 5326 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201. Its regular hours are Tuesday-Thursday from 5pm – 12am, and Friday-Sunday from 5pm – 1am.