My mother's birthday...

…is of course something to celebrate. Like everyone else, I feel that my mother is the best mother in the world. I hope you feel the same about yours.

She invited a friend and I acted as both Head Chef in the kitchen and sommelier at the dining table.

To start thinks off I offered them a shrimp/seafood starter just to tease their appetite.

As a beverage pairing, I opted for a champagne.

NV Pierre Gerbais Champagne Prestige Blanc de Blanc
It feels like drinking a sparkling Chablis. Very fine-tuned precision, sharp acidity, chalky bone-dry, tight and steely minerality coating the palate. Like licking on pure limestone. I’ve had this on numerous occasions and I must confess my liking goes up and down depending on my “minerality mood” of the day. Sometimes I very much enjoy this laser-like style of champagne and sometimes I just want them a little warmer, a little more fruity and “rounder”, so to speak. While the quality is difficult to dismiss, today I was more in the latter mood and hence craving a little more riper and more yellow notes, so the chalky limestone minerality marked this as 88 points in my book. Fresh and delicious on its own but not enough complexity today to merit a higher score. I poured another bottle to a friend recently and his impression was as follows: “This bottle delivers the goods, with fine notes of assorted nuts, white currants, oyster shells and some smoky aromas. Very fine. The taste is tight and fresh with juicy yellow fruit and notes of freshly cut chalk, lemon peel and flowers. A fine acidity. Really good. 91 points.”

Abiding to my mother’s wishes, it was set to be a shrimp evening. So I prepared this little teaser while they were waiting for the main course.

And then…there was this wine I had choosen for my mother to enjoy on her birthday. It had a major fault. So much that I actually tried to call the winemaker to register a complaint and to see if he has experienced similar problems with this particular wine. You see, I opened it while preparing the dish above. Just a little squeeze from the bottle. When I looked at the glass I discovered the most peculiar phenomenon. It was…empty. That’s odd, I said to myself as I grabbed the bottle again and poured myself another sip. While contemplating about the strange behaviour of this wine, I stretched out just to add some more shrimps on the plate and when I looked at the glass in front of me I couldn’t but stare at it with total amazement. The glass, a Zalto Universal, was…empty. Again! WHADDAF…!? Looking around in the kitchen to possibly find the culprit but after a thorough search I had to conclude there was…no one there. Odd… Again. I moved towards the living room just to see if my mother and her friend had helped themselves to the wine without me noticing but no, they were still drinking champagne. Hum. What an eery feeling of having some invisible ghost floating around the kitchen and interfering with my dinner preparations! Somewhat annoyed by now, I took the bottle out of the fridge again and poured myself another sip, mumbling loudly about the fact that a man can’t even be left in peace while cooking. I served the shrimp teaser, poured them the wine that seem to be disappearing as soon as it hits the interiour of the glass and went back to the kitchen. You’ve guessed it. My glass was again…empty.

Obviously there’s a major manufacturing flaw in the design of the bottle. Or the cork, because with an evaporation rate like that, how could one possibly entertain dinner guests, let alone conduct a wine tasting with friends? Unfortunately, after gathering all the evidence I could find in the kitchen and sending them off to NCIS’ forensic lab for analysis, they returned a hypothesis that all along it must have been me pouring the wine to myself and sipping without noticing it. The main reason for this, they suggested, was that in a standard weight test, they found the wine to be completely weightless. Less then a feather’s pressure on the scale, they claimed. And could thus, it almost flow unnoticed over the palate without me noticing it - and hence the confusion.

D oy o ug e tm yp o i n t ?

This wine has no mass. I don’t care a tiny bit about the Higgs boson particle and the possible quantum excitation of the Higgs field flowing through the universe and possibly explaining how other particles acquire mass; I don’t care if it doesn’t have a spin or electric charge but I’m telling you…this wine has NO mass. It’s weightless. Yet somehow it leaves its mark on the palate. And wait! There’s more. While reading the NCIS’ summary file, suddenly, a light appeared in front of me, and a humanoid shape took form and started to…


(click to listen)

Now THAT’S how this wine feels. Exactly like that.

“And you, Ring-bearer,” she said, turning to Frodo. “I come to you last who are not last in my thoughts. For you I have prepared this.” She held up a small crystal phial: it glittered as she moved it, and rays of white light sprang from her hand. “In this phial”, she said, “is caught the light of Eärendil’s star, set amid the waters of my fountain. It will shine still brighter when night is about you. May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out”.

“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out”

My name is not Frodo but I hear people sometimes dicussing what they would bring to a desolate island if they could only choose one thing. I’m more thinking of what might possibly occcur in a trillion years. If this is anywhere near the truth…

…and if the universe will expand until all goes dark and there’s just an empty, dark void, THIS wine is what I would like to bring with me.

2015 Light of Eärendil Riesling Kabinett
Dancing on the tongue. Flirting with your senses. Displaying crystal-clear minerality. Offering liquid limestone rock. Sparkling with energy. The whole impressions reminds me of distant stars in the Milky Way galaxy, lighting up the dark night sky, popping waves of diamond-like crystals onto your palate, with a texture most reminiscent of bursting champagne bubbles - or that feeling in a sushi bar when you pop fly fish roe between your teeth. The wine literally bounces like a pin ball in your mouth and invigorates your spirit to the brink of you feeling how you break the rules of gravity as you’re levitating around the kitchen. Remember to stay clear of sharp objects! There’s no sense in discussing finish or even mention the feeling of white peach and arctic ice-cold snow because this wine is not about flavour, it’s not even about texture, but it’s all about bottled energy. In it’s purest, most crystalline form. 100 points. It’s a helicopter lift-off with the rotors fully extended. End of discussion.

Having found out there was indeed no intruder but that, in fact, I was the person who had been walking around in the kitchen preparing the food and unnoticably sipping on this astonishing wine, I turned my attention to the main dish and yes, you’ve guessed it, it was all about shrimps again.

I spiced them up a bit with dried chillies and what can be better to pair with spicy food?

Of course…a German Riesling with residual sugar and to my palate, the sweet spot has always been Spätlese.

2012 Willi Schaefer Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spätlese AP #5
This went beautifully together with the dish as the salty sweetness of the wine blends perfectly with the saltiness from the shrimps and the spiciness from the dried chillies. It offers layers of red/yellow peach, grapefruit and pear. Much rounder and voluptious now than I remember it from a year ago, it also adds a sense of what I could at best describe as a mixture of kiwi and pear. It’s not the perfect description but the best I can come up with as I write these words. The fun thing about it is that is has a spiciness of its own, deliciously balancing it with the food’s spiciness and as always when the grapes are in the gentle care of Willi’s and Christoph’s hands, a lovely delicate and transparent purity throughout the palate. A fabulous wine on its own but to be honest, I liked it even more two eyars ago, when it displayed even more laser-like and focused sharpness and bouncing zest. 92 points.

All in all a nice dinner and I hope my mother enjoyed my sommelier and cooking skills on her birthday.

Mothers are important. Please make sure to tell them while you have the chance…

You, as TW’s 90+ year old grandmother said of her 80 year old son (TW’s father), are a good boy.


I don’t know if you have ever read Thomas Pynchon, but your tasting note on the champagne would make him proud!

Your mother is lucky to have you as a son.



Miran, this is shaping up to being one of my favorite posts of the early year.
Thanks, and yes, mothers are important!

lovely notes and as a mother I appreciate your sentiments.

Thanks for the kind comments, folks! Mothers are indeed important.

Suzanne, now you can just send this link to your children to give them a hint… :slight_smile:

What a lovely gift to your mother!

I’m another mom who is applauding!


I think that it was the sweetest thing for you to handle the burden of cooking such a wildly sophisticated birthday dinner for your mom.

My original sentiment, while still valid, has been a little twisted by the second tasting note (Hardy Wallace would be proud, too!). :slight_smile:

Glad that everything went well!!

Thank you for a reminder that I must plan my mother’s 95th birthday party this week. My mother is obviously the best mother in the world, so I disagree with your opening comment, but other than that, a great write up. My mother likes Aubert Chardonnay, so we will have some of that. Your cooking technique and presentation is much better than mine, so we will probably do it at a restaurant. I have to see if I can find another 1922 Madeira.


the 1922 D’Oliveiras Bual Vintage Madeira is available

I was concerned that the kabinett was so good that it would get you helicoptering at a most inopportune time.


A superb post and well done for making your mother’s special day so memorable.