Sunday, January 27, 2008

Famous drunk guys -- Happy Birthday(s) to 2 of them!

This weekend marks the celebration of the birthdays of two creative geniuses. I don't know with certainty whether they actually were "drunk guys," although Robert Burns had quite the reputation, but both of them were born in the 1750's, which meant that they lived before modern water and sewage systems. Thus, they likely drank fermented beverages because those were the only ones that were "safe," and really, who hasn't drunk a bit too much of the fermented stuff every now and again?

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756. He's well-known for a large body of classical music including symphonies, concertos, sonatas, and, of course, operas. My favorites are the symphony No. 40 in G minor (K 550) and anything that was used in the Smurfs. Oh, and the piano Sonata in C, which everyone who took piano for more than 3 years ended up learning and which was featured in the movie "Groundhog Day." Poor Mozart probably had to drink German wines, which probably contributed to his early death (my speculation), although he may have had access to better wines through his noble patrons. It probably depended on whether they were at war with France at the time.

Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759. There's no doubt that he enjoyed the fermented stuff, but I suspect that it was mostly Scotch. He's hailed as the national poet of Scotland and has given us the words to the depressing Auld Lang Syne, which always makes me want to have a drink, and many humorous poems such as "To A Louse" and "To A Mouse." His birthday is often celebrated with "Burns' Night," which, in the 'States, involves a bunch of individuals of (sometimes doubtful) Scottish heritage getting together to drink Tennant's or Scotch and reading or reciting his poems in (definitely terrible) Scottish accents. The exception is in Montgomery, where the St. Andrews' Society does it up all formal-like at the Montgomery Country Club and really kills the festive mood.

Here are my suggestions for celebrating...

Mozart's birthday: You could go with either a German wine or an Austrian one. My pick for this year was the 2006 Rosenberg Gruner Veltliner. Yes, it's Austrian. For those who may think that wines from that particular part of the world are always going to be really sweet, think again. This one has fruit, floral, and a good bit of mineral and acid. It's overall very well-balanced and food friendly -- and not a bit sweet! Just don't get the foil cutter out for this one; it's a screw top.

Robert Burns' birthday: After the Scots signed the Auld Alliance in 1295, they got to experience French wines (because you know they're not growing grapes up there). I don't really have a current favorite, so go out and find a nice Bordeaux blend for yourself, then come back and tell me. Or just have a Scotch.

So, my dear fellow oenophiles, put on some good music, read some fun poetry, and enjoy the last few hours of the weekend!


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