We all have bias. It’s impossible to say that you have none, although many of us try very hard to recognize our biases.
My bias toward Greek wine started early in my life.
I remember my Venetian mother sparring in a (mostly) friendly banter with a Greek member of my family by marriage. When a bottle of Greek wine arrived one day at Sunday lunch, chaos broke out because everyone knows that nothing is good outside of northern Italy…Anyway, fast forward 30 years. I never gave Greek wine a second thought until I took the WSET Level 3 advanced course in wines. Your studies take you around the world to every wine region. One wine that mesmerized me was a white wine made in Santorini from Assyrtiko grapes. What is unique is how the vines are managed. The winds are so strong on the volcanic island of Santorini that they train the grape vines into a basket shape. The grapes are protected by the vine’s permanent wood and they grow inside the basket, protected from the winds. I found this technique to be so interesting and it was burned in my mind. Recently, I was looking at the wine by the glass list in one of my favorite restaurants and saw an Assyrtiko so I HAD to try it. It was delicious and I was so glad to have sated my interest. Last week, I was wine shopping and what did I find in front of me – an Assyrtiko from Santo Wines. I was delighted with my purchase!
However, knowing that Assyrtiko would be a high acid wine, I had to figure out a good food pairing because my husband doesn’t generally like high acid wines. If you read my wine recommendations, you know that a good food pairing will balance out high acidity. I happened to have a bottle of brined olives from last year’s harvest that I wanted to use. So, I decided to make a tapenade with some crusty bread and anticipated the pairing to be perfect. Bingo! Husband thought the acid level was perfectly acceptable to him while munching on the crostini with tapenade. The balance of brine, salt, olive, anchovy, capers and olive oil was perfect with the “sea-breeze freshness and citrus fruits with honeyed undertones” of the wine.
What I re-learned with this story is that pushing yourself to see your bias and stretching to try new things will most often surprise you pleasantly. Education is also a key component. Maybe I should call this post Unconstrained by Bias?!?!
I hope you make this beautiful tapenade, which will last 1 month in your refrigerator or you can cut the recipe in half if you need less. This is also a great recipe for vegans. Buy some Greek Assyrtiko and enjoy!
Olive Tapenade with Crostini
3 cups pitted olives (any type but try not to mix colors too much)
6-8 cloves of peeled garlic
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 – 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5-6 oil-packed anchovy filets
1 tablespoon capers
2 teaspoons of fresh herbs, such as basil, parsley or thyme (if you don’t have this, you can skip)
Place ingredients in food processor or blender and process shortly to a rough chop. For crostini, slice baguette very thin and place on sheet pan. Broil both sides until lightly brown.