On Favorites

January 15, 2009 at 3:25 pm (Beer, Our Favorite Things, What we are eating, What we are thinking, What we're drinking) (, , , , , , , , )

by Ms. Rachel Driver, LUSH Manager

So, as a good little Lush, and as a complete geek in life and in wine, I often blog hop and read what other people are thinking and writing about wine, beer, spirits, and food…and sometimes anthropology or other fun tangents.  And, I came across this quote in the Wine Enthusiast blog…

‘As a literature lover, I often bristle when asked to name my “favorite author” or “favorite book of all time.” While I have a clear and consistent idea of what constitutes solid writing, a good plot and interesting characters, I’ve found over the years that my taste for stories and tone is dynamic and certainly influenced by events and people in my life at that given time. While as a romantic teenager I devoured the poet Shelley and all of the breathless effusion he offered, today I turn to the worldliness of Miller, the caustic wit of Plath, the blunt magic of Marquez. And while sinking into a dense, head-bending session of Dostoyevsky makes perfect sense in the dead of winter, it’s not what I want in my hand when I’m kicking back on a beach in the tropics (think Marquez). I love them all, but to choose just one to encompass everything I was, am and might be, is pretty much impossible.’

‘Telling the Tale of the Soul…with Wine’

Monday, January 5th, 2009 at 5:31:57 PM
by Susan Kostrzewa

This quote made me think about finishing (or really, let’s be honest, beginning) a blog topic that I reflect upon often.  So, I admit, this inquiry isn’t a big deal and I really don’t mind it so much, but I do sometimes get squimish when pointedly asked which wine is my most favoritest.

As a wine lover and drinker…not to mention that I work at a wine shop that is full to the brim with eccentric bottles of wine, beer, and spirits…I do kinda use misdirection when asked to actually point out one favorite.  Absolutely do I know the components of a ‘good’ wine, the structure, balance, and overarching sensual resonance of the juice.  But, this knowledge is ever evolving and broadening across the entire spectrum of fermented beverage.  My preferences and tastes are incredibly dynamic and shift quickly and often…I’ll branch off on tangents, get whisked away by an ethereal experience, fall into seasonal rhythms, or just get really excited about something…you’ve seen me freaking out about a wine by now, I am sure.

I have a propensity to choose my wine by my food…attempting to deftly weigh one against the other to find a lovely pairing.  And, I love to try weird new things…in food and beverage.  So, with an entire store full of delicious choices, I tend to navigate by my inclination at that very moment, right before I walk out the door.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I definitely plan ahead and put wine away for specific occasions, and choosing a wine for a client or friend in any given situation is fun, exciting, and generally much easier than picking a wine just for me.  I just don’t want to be pinned down to just ONE wine…I want them all.

Although my ingrained passion for super obscure, dusty Italian wines is nearly insatiable, I find that I would rarely pick one of those bottles as my ‘favorite’ at any given moment.

Except right now…admitted tangent…these are a few of the wines I am crushing on at the moment, and they happen to be really Italian.  See this is the madly desperate excited love for something that flashes hot.

[I had dinner at Schwa last week and the LUSH staff dinner at Mado was last night and I am buzzing on some stuff…I am seriously digging on the 2001 Marc Bergaglio ‘Pilin’ Gavi.  This is an incredible, cerebral single vineyard bottling of straight Cortese from Gavi, Piedmont, Italy.  ‘Pilin’ is oak aged and phenomenally weird…only the most healthy, plump grapes are selected in the vineyard by hand and then dried on straw mats for 40 days and then tossed in barrique.  This wine is entirely dry, but full and round, sensually silky, complexly layered, and delicious.  It paired with every dish that evening!

My other huge crush all began at a casual dinner at Avec with friends in wine…Greg Smolik, Craig Perman, the winemaker from ‘Alois’ and Steven Alexander.  Of course, we were drinking crazy Italian wine and talking about crazy wine.  As Ornellaia and Le Macchiole came up, and the trend to plant and bottle wines comprised of Petite Verdot on the west coast of Italy…Steven mentioned Franchetti.  And, I haven’t looked back.  Franchetti was the first to bring the Bordeaux varietal Petite Verdot and the Latium varietal Cesanese d’Affile to the slopes of Mount Etna and the Guardiola vineyard.  He has combined these two grapes for this eponymous wine.  Mitch has rubbed off a bit of his love for good, concentrated PV and I just had to taste this wine.  But, since only 260 cases are produced and a small number of bottles imported to the U.S., there were no available bottles in Chicago.  Well, shoot.  Luckily, Mr. Alexander is incredibly generous, and freed up a few bottles that were at the distributor still, but allocated to Spiaggia.  So, LUSH got 3 bottles about a month ago…we already drank some.  Eeee!  Deep, chewy, peppery, velvety and just sublime.  It makes me melt.]

Sometimes I crave something big, bold, and easy…and others, much more often, I fiend for a bottle that is intellectual (yes, I am a nerd), that inspires conversation, reflection, and research!  Also, as I gain years and wisdom, I gravitate toward different flavors and styles.  Who knew that I would fall in love with rye whiskey?  Yes, I do find myself craving straight Pappy Van Winkle 13 year Rye.  Mmm.

So, in a very concise conclusion, juxtaposed with my very prolific prose above, I do not care to choose a singular expression or bottle of wine as my ultimate favorite.  Instead, I will just raise a glass once more and toast to diversity in drink!




  1. Susan said,


    Glad you liked my post. It’s all about mood, mindset, timing. It’s part of what makes wine a dynamic adventure . . .

    • lushrachel said,

      Thanks, Susan. I loved your post. I tend to be a lover of literature, as well, but since my job is wine, my reading has been a bit biased lately. It was refreshing to step outside that box for a moment.


  2. Dylan Rogers said,

    I enjoyed reading your blog, although it was with a little bias: Susan Kostrzewa is a friend of mine. We carpooled together for 2 years while I was at Wine Enthusiast.

    • lushrachel said,

      Thanks, Dylan! Susan is very engaging…

      Where have you ended up?


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