The first wine I ever tasted became the first wine I ever loved.
I was barely 15, on a trip to Paris and the Loire Valley with my French class. We toured a wine cellar in Vouvray, locked eyes with langoustines perched beneath silver domes at a château dinner, and went to a sound-and-light show at Azay-Le-Rideau, a 16th-century castle encircled by a moat.
Standing beside Jeffrey Wassouf, my funniest friend with coffee-colored eyes, I looked up at the sky and saw a shooting star. At least I think I did. My head spun--from the wine, bien sûr, but also from an experience so otherworldly, so visceral.
Chenin blanc, a grape whose ninth-century birthplace along France’s Loire Valley remains its most hallowed ground, renders oenophiles rhapsodic.
With aromas and flavors that tiptoe a line between seductive (quince, apple, citrus, melon, orange blossom) and bizarre (lanolin, beeswax, wet wool), along with a creamy--almost slippery--texture, it resembles lemon meringue pie.
And though I drink it now in surroundings far more prosaic, with minestrone instead of velouté, it remains my most beloved varietal.