Feb 6, 2015

Welcome to Basque in Wine!

Kaixo, ongi etorri! (Hello, welcome)

My name is Antonio VĂ©rdiny, your personal "wine guru". You may be new to wine or maybe you are a "seasoned veteran" ("aged") collector or oenophile who never tires of trying new wines or
seeks to increase your knowledge about wine, find new additions to your cellar or collection or just what values are out there, yours for the taking!

Now you may be wondering, Basque in Wine? Shouldn't it be Bask in Wine? Why not both? Basques are known for their love of good food and wine and so why not learn to bask in wine from a Basque's perspective. Basque's have only been making & drinking wine for over a thousand years! So I invite you to follow my blog and in no time, I will have you "Basque-ing" in wine!

Let me start from the beginning, over centuries many Basques came to the Americas in search of new opportunities. Many worked in agriculture, some moved on to other trades and they brought their culinary traditions along with them to make themselves and their fellow "paysan's" feel at home in this new world. These traditions always included wine just like all of their other European counterparts. Many of these expatriates opened restaurants where bottles of wine would be found on the table just like water. For many Europeans wine is just a staple, a part of any meal, nothing about snobbery or class distinction, just an essential part of an everyday robust life style.

When my father immigrated to this country in the early forties, he was an ambitious lad with nothing but a dream in his pocket and a desire to get a piece of the American dream. Unlike his brothers who traditionally raised livestock and farmed, he had shall I say, "loftier" ideas of fame and fortune. His dreams brought him to Los Angeles, CA where he worked for a time as a bell boy and other service jobs while he learned English in hopes of getting into the entertainment business. In the mean time he entered the restaurant and night club business, learning the bartenders trade and had an uncanny gift as a "mixologist" to the point of becoming an award winning bartender to the stars of Hollywood. Jerry Lewis had hired him to open his night club on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood (Across the street from where Tower Records used to be).

This was in the sixties and if you were around in those days most working class families didn't drink much in the way of fine wine. As a matter of fact, most of what we drank was jug wine! California was already a massive wine producing "appellation". None the less aita (father) taught us the enjoyment of a glass of wine with good food. I will never forget him telling me "Don't underestimate California Wine, it's going to be right up there with European wines!"
One of life's great pleasures is enjoying a meal with friends and family enhanced by the right wine to compliment a fine meal, be it one of multiple courses or just some tapas (Basque's call them pintxos [peen-chos]) and wine. From my early exposure to wine growing up, I discovered my father's innate ability to "read fine libations & wine". Once I turned 21 I started trying wines from all over the world and even collecting a few and sharing them with friends. Fast forward to the 21st century, I have written articles in a few publications, taught classes, and even interned in the actual wine making process. My travels have taken me to the likes of Bordeaux, France, Rioja, & Ribera del Duero, Spain, Willamette Valley, Oregon all the way down through just about every major wine region from Napa, California to Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico.

Did you ever see that commercial where a wine snob holding a beloved bottle in the aisle of a great wine store and see's some poor clueless gal, overwhelmed by all the selections, pull a bottle of undrinkable "plonk" off the shelf to which he gasps? Well, call me a "wine whisperer" my passion is to get the great deals into everybody's wine shopping cart and share the wealth!

I am obsessed with wine and when I discover a great deal on some great "juice", I can't keep it to myself, I have to "take it to the streets"! So, follow me!