Monday, September 14, 2009

A renewed commitment to Southern Indiana wineries promised at the Bank Street Brewhouse.

I expend very little energy thinking about wine. This isn’t because I don’t like wine. It’s because I prefer beer, and having become renowned for preferring beer – in essence, being paid to drink beer – it’s what I drink and think most of the time.

Not all of the time, though, and drinking wine is an enjoyable busman’s holiday for me. Much of the reason why wine is enjoyable for me in limited doses is because I know comparatively little about it. It may be true that I know a bit more than I let on, and yet, overall, my knowledge base is rudimentary. I aim to keep it that way, not out of malice, but rather out of triage. I’ve neither the time nor the liver to become “expert” at a second drinking discipline.

These considerations matter because of a decision we made about the newest of our two businesses, Bank Street Brewhouse. Our goal with Bank Street Brewhouse is to accompany Chef Josh Lehman’s formidable cuisine with the beers we brew at BSB and the original garage brewhouse three miles away. It is a measure of how admirably Josh has succeeded in the kitchen that customers ask for a wine list, presumably having been trained to think that such high quality of food could not possibly be consumed without wine, as opposed to beer.

This is an errant assumption, and one that we’ll change with time. In the interim, we have not neglected the output of the vineyard. Rather, we have taken the position that if our locally produced beer stands the test of pairing with Josh’s culinary creations, so do local wines being handcrafted throughout Southern Indiana and wineries like Huber, Turtle Run, Thomas Family, Winzerwald, Butler, Best, Oliver and several others.

I can tally these wineries here without cribbing off the Internet, primarily because in the past year and a half, I’ve visited all of them save for Best and a couple others not listed here. At each there were greater and lesser wines, but the point is that at their best, these wineries make excellent products worthy of featuring as part of our effort to emphasize local beers and foodstuffs that come from small, independent or family-run operations.

We’re trying to stay consistent with these principles as it is possible to do so. Why should Southern Indiana wines be treated any differently? My own taste buds tell me that while there surely are classic wines from time-honored wine making areas of the world that are “better” than these, and I use that term rationally yet guardedly, locally made wines are good and getting better. They fit the bill conceptually, and I believe some of them are better than just “good.” Besides, a grape like Chambourcin is one grown right here. That’s local. That’s the point, isn’t it?

As with the tendency at one time for beer drinkers to prefer imports over American-made craft beers, I suspect there is an element of snobbery in this prejudice, which provides even more reason for me to reject the notion that for the BSB wine list to be suitable, there must be selections from somewhere else. This is bunk. I’m advising staff that we’re making a renewed effort to build a wine list that features Southern Indiana wines, and I believe we shall make it slightly larger than I first envisioned. Yes, BSB is all about NABC beer, but not to the exclusion of other local products worth enjoying and savoring. Come to think of it, shifting this knowledge back to the original location is a very good idea, too.

If I have to visit these Southern Indiana wineries again, and go through all those samplings a second time, I’m willing to make the sacrifice in the name of science, and local commerce. It's exhausting. Someone must do it.


Indiana Uplands Wine Trail

Wineries of Indiana


Patty Marguet said...

tx for considering the wine offerings at bsb for those of us who don't drink beer . . . this is blaspheme i know but here it is: i don't like beer (duck!) but, a nice glass of wine with dinner is always the way i end the day. so, it will make me happy to sip a nice dry wine next time jim and i eat at bsb, and support local producers at the same time.
cheers! patty

David said...

Its not that you don't like beer, you just haven't found the one you like yet. Do I remember having wine with your family's Sunday dinner when we were mere teens? I always thought your parents to be progressive since.


Patty Marguet said...

of all the many sips i've had from jim's glass, the ipa is one that doesn't wrinkle my nose, and the color is nice and sunny . . . you have a good memory, we did have wine with dinner at mom&dad's . . . my taste for it must be rooted in those traditions.