Smack-dab in the middle of the Holy-day season, I feel we should talk about Mashed Potato Technique. It’s important. Whenever I’m feeling particularly lazy at dinner-time, I don’t peel the mashed potatoes. Like my mother, I tell the kids that’s where all the nutrients are–why throw that away?!? I can not say I truly like them better: I love them perfect puffy creamy and rustic-chunky-peely almost equally. So which one is the Artisan version? I have avoided referring to the blighted mounds as Hipster-potatoes for some time now. Maybe I’ll try tonight and see what kind of looks I get. Until then, they are Artisanal and are one million times better than the blue-blazered Martha’s Vineyard version because I said so and they take half as long to make and I get to charge twice as much because: Artisanal. And they’re better for you, right? They take less butter. Less salt. Less heavy cream. Less elbow-grease. Still, I find myself–more often than not–making the proper white billowy mounds so smooth you can suck them through the gap in your front teeth. They are an icon. Look at them as a citadel of the Junior League. A WASP beacon in a sea of filthy beards.
And… there are two ways to make artisanal wine.
Despite what the recent breed of winemakers show you on social media and tell you about on their labels and explain to you via their non-inbedded paid mouthpieces, the bloggers, there is a way to make fine wine no one talks about. Never have. The top boutique wineries have been doing it for decades. It just isn’t pretty. It doesn’t look near as good on promotional posters at Whole Foods. It involves a lot of stainless steel. It involves a lot of cheap labor–and we’re not talking about the winemaker’s wife and kids here.
There is no foot-stomping, no native-yeast, no open-barrel fermentations, no whole-cluster macerations. These artisans even get haircuts occasionally. This wine-making style is called THE RELENTLESS PURSUIT OF PERFECTION. No flaws in anything going into the fermenter. Every grape ideal. No leaves, no stems, no bugs, bees or lizards. No shriveled fruit. Long lines of tedious hand sorting over and over to ensure NOTHING extraneous. Free-run presses. Everything going into the bottle absolutely as pure and ideal as possible. It costs a lot of money, and often is the business-end of a huge corporation or an imprint of a conglomeration. Is it somehow a less-sacred way of making top-quality wine?
I am not suggesting one method produces a truer wine than the other or that all methods work seamlessly across all varietals. I am merely reminding–or pointing out–the method some may be unaware of and some of us frequently forget with the constant promotional barrage of rusticity in the name of ‘trueness’.
There’s two ways to make mashed potatoes. When Momma says “They’re better for you this way,” question authority. And two ways to make a 60$ bottle of amazing wine.