17 April 2020. Words by Peter Windrim.
Our regular In Five Drinks column has been temporarily shelved because of… you know what. But if we can’t venture out, then we’re venturing deeper in, accosting industry leading lights for their top five drinks in isolation. First up, Peter Windrim from Supernatural Cellars in Byron Bay, our Wineslinger Maverick award winner for 2019, walks us through his picks. And it’s a wild, wild ride…
It’s hard to open a bottle of wine with your elbows. My five isolation drinks…
Non 3 Toasted Cinnamon & Yuzu (RRP $30, 750mL)
[Non is a new range of alcohol free beverages made in Melbourne.]
Consider it the fit mistress with which you cheat on your lady liquor. She’s alcohol free, she’s vivacious, sultry, spicy and eager to please. She gifts you clarity, energy, and swims at dawn. But beware the breeze blown by your lustful liquor that will sneak up and snuff out your mistress’s flame.
Strohmeier Rosé (RRP $130)
[A biodynamic sparkling rosé made by Strohmeier from the wildbacher grape in Styria, Austria.]
All peach. All tobacco. All mouth party. This is a gateway wine to ultimate pleasure. A wine that bridges the wild divide between thirst and lust. Open slowly. Drink with zeal.
Tomàs Torres ‘Terricola’ Blanc (RRP $75)
[An organic skin contact white wine made by Celler Tomàs Torres from a blend of the tardana and tortosi grapes in Valencia, Spain.]
A postcard arrived from Spain. The image was of a beautiful woman laying naked beneath an almond tree. Almonds lay scattered around her tanned body and her mouth appeared bent in a knowing smile. The message read, “Dear Peter, an ocean may separate us, but my mind and body are drifting towards you – xx T.”
Nescafé Blend 43 ($9.40 for 150g at Woolworths)
Caffeine intake in quarantine…
I’ll happily admit that I’m afraid of snakes, that I tap out the syllables to words on my leg, or that I check my fly’s done up three times before leaving the house. However, purchasing my first jar of Nescafé Blend 43 was an astonishing moment of morbid despair. You see, I’m a snob. Champagne drinker on a carrot-buyer’s-budget kind of a snob. Make that half a carrot.
My wife insisted it was bound to be tasteless and full of chemicals, but I believed that I could lend it some tone and authority. Perhaps I could dynamize my hand-thrown ceramic Mongolian mug with a teaspoon and awaken the celestial caffeine gods? Na. Maybe I could raise a pinkie? Try it with almond milk? Drink it cross-legged listening to Anoushka Shankar with Nag Champa swirling around me? Nope.
After a few days, however, I realised that the coffee is actually okay. I’m the problem. You see a lot of people, including myself, can’t afford a trip to the coffee shop every day, and Nescafé is their morning treat. Blend 43’s smooth, well-structured length, its hints of talc, tarmac and tarragon combined with a silken finish is a heavenly invitation to breathe. It’s a balm for the soul, and a breeze with which to cast you on your way. Yep.
According to Nescafé’s website, the perfect cup of coffee is one that is both bold and smooth at the same time. “To achieve this we take care & craft in the roasting process, applying a little more heat to the sweet Arabica bean & a little less to the strong Robusta bean.”
Pickle juice: panic in the kitchen
I didn’t panic buy toilet paper. But I’m fairly sure the amount that I’ve been cooking hasn’t come from a place of calm. Am I panic eating? Are eight meals per day normal? Before the shutdown, we had been doing a lot of pickling at Supernatural, so I brought all of the ingredients home. I’d already made guacamole, fish curry and a chicken soup earlier that day, so I was on what you might call ‘a roll’. At least I was likely to be eating one anyway. Either way, I’m wearing an apron, so my confidence is at an all-time high.
I’m pickling now, and have filled about 25 jars, but I still have half a bucket of kohlrabi and a kilo of radishes. It’s at this moment that I have what an alcoholic might call ‘a moment of clarity’. A voice – I’m not sure whose – says, “Put them in the blender with some vinegar and a cup of cayenne and make …. pickle juice.” Oui, chef!
With the flair of a composer, I dip my finger into the foaming, lurid liquid in the blender, and lick it. There is no rapturous applause. Instead, there are tears. Tears smother my face, and gastric convulsions, and burning, and coughing, and a face the colour of a… radish. Stick to the cookbook, kids.
Peter Windrim is a winemaker and owner of Supernatural Cellars in Byron Bay. Much to his own amusement, he is spending his isolation time delivering wine around The Northern Rivers dressed like an Indian Dabbawala. (A uniform he acquired when he lived in Bombay). When he is out of costume, he can be found in his vegetable garden or standing in his kitchen wondering what to eat next.