Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

"Micro" Plates

Maybe I'm getting bigger, but it seems to me that small plates are shrinking. Maybe we are going from Mini to Micro, or "Mee-Crow" as the French would say. It doesn't cost a restaurant much to put more "product" on the plate, but if you are still hungry after three or four plates then the ultimate cost of your meal will go up. The trend toward small plates could be derived from the Spanish tapas and raciones. On the other hand, it could be thought of as a deconstruction of the French tasting menu, or Menu Degustation.

One night we went to "Pair", a very popular local neighborhood bistro, with our friends Sam and Carol. "Pair" is apparently an allusion to the pairing of wine and food. Even though they have a fairly long wine list and a one page menu of small plates, I didn't actually see any effort to pair wine and food. We tasted five different wines by the glass. I had a 2005 Gournier Viognier from France. It tasted tart, old and tired - adequate, but boring really. Sam had a 2006 Trumpeter Shiraz/Malbec from Argentina - earthy, rustic and good. Carol had a 2004 Hornillos Ballesteros, Mibal, Ribera del Duero Tempranillo from Spain. It was clearly the best wine with delicious black berry fruit and a quality Carol described as rustic, the characteristic smokiness of Spanish wine which has almost been banished like the real flavor of real pork ( the non-other white meat) and the real flavor of real lamb. Diane had a 2004 Valentina, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from Italy which had a bright cherry nose with hints of tobacco. It was round soft and easy with good fruit - a good value. The most interesting wine was a "Pinot Noir" from the Trentino in Northern Italy. This 2005 Pinot Nero from Lecthaler first presented with a small blast of acid, but then it was smooth fruity and relatively light like an inexpensive Oregon Pinot.

The plates were small. The Romano Beans and Roasted Artichokes were tasty and the portions were adequate. The Confit of Duck was less than two square inches, as were the Salmon and Halibut - just barely enough for a micro taste for each of the four of us. I thought if they had had Escargot on the menu that they would serve just one snail. It seems we are going from Cuisine Minceur to Mini to Micro to Miniscule. Soon the glass pours will shrink, too, and I will be forced to lose weight.The health authorities certainly needn't fear that Pair is contributing to those 200 extra calories Americans consume every day. Perhaps it is better to think of pair as a wine bar. All I know is at $50 per person I felt robbed.

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