If you haven’t been to Harvard’s Science and Cooking lectures, it’s your free opportunity to geek out with Ferran Adrià, David Chang, Wylie Dufresne– basically, people you wouldn’t mind hiring to cater your death row meal. They come into town to give a lecture, and the food science faculty takes them out for ice cream. In a dorm. Yeah, that’s way po-mo hipster brainy cute, no?
Anyhow, last night’s lecture was from Nathan Myhrvold, mad polymathic genius behind Modernist Cuisine, the gifting of which automatically makes me Girlfriend of the Year (or so I keep telling Gin Savant) for the next six of them.
So after an hour of really cool videos in which the audience oohed and aahed at food changing phases, and you know, SCIENCE bitches, he drops in this coy little takeaway: if your wine isn’t savory enough for your liking, put a teensy pinch of fine-ground salt in it. Red or white. Myhrvold said he did it right in front of Gina Gallo with one of her Cabs, the cheeky imp. This is also the guy who thinks running wine through a blender is a thing. Myhrvold said that we salt food to bring balance and amplification to flavors and food, so why not do it with wine?
Some wines do indeed already have a marked, pleasing taste of salinity–also called sapidity in certain sommelier circles, which makes me think “stupidity” or “vapidity.” A lot of times these wines are made in areas near the sea, as you might expect: reds from Apulia in southern Italy, assyrtikos from Santorini, Greece. Oceanfront access is not a requirement, either, as you’ll find it in wines from vineyards along the Murray River in New South Wales and Victoria, and in the Margaret River region in Western Australia. Muscadets from the Loire tend to be salty (and perhaps one of the reasons they go so well with oysters).
I tried it with the Aglianico del Vulture in my fridge that was probably open a day too late, and it only magnified the metallic taste you get with a wine that’s been overly oxidized. Then I tried it with a newly opened Basque red and that threw everything out of balance. My suspicion is that it might work really well with a northern Italian red from one of the mountainous regions like Alto Adige–I’ve long been a fan of their acidic whites, but found their reds, due to the cold, less than thrilling. If you try it, report back in the comments and I’ll do the same.