A communiqué from
the Overlord of the Summer of Riesling*
In Praise of the Zamboni
Charles Schulz’s Charlie Brown poignantly stated:
“there are three things in life that people like to stare at:
a flowing stream, a crackling fire, and a Zamboni clearing the ice.”
Truly, there are few inventions of the 20th Century that have so revolutionized a sport. When Frank Zamboni and his brothers built the Paramount Iceland in Paramount, CA., in 1939, the only way to clean the ice was to send a crew of workers onto the rink, to scrape off the snow, wash the ice that remained, and then squeegee the ice to get a smooth surface. This took about an hour. By the end of an N.H.L. game in the early 20th century, there was about three feet of snow on the ice and the players were literally skating on a pipe-riddled concrete foundation. With the completion of his “Model A” in 1949, Zamboni crafted a vehicle that could shave the ice (removing the top 1/16”), then wash the ice (flushing out any detritus in the indentations on the surface), and then finally leave behind a layer of fresh ice-making water. A literal brand new game of hockey could begin with each new period. Like Charlie Brown, we fill up on Cracker Jacks / soda / hot dogs during the 20-minute periods and then sit transfixed with amazement, as the Zamboni works its magic during the two intermissions.
And what does a Zamboni have to do with wine, and specifically, Riesling?
Well, for those who love to eat and drink, you might consider your tongue to be the playing surface where all cool gustatory things begin. And to keep the eating / drinking continuing, one must clean and refresh that surface. The one thing that does clean it is wine and, more specifically, it is the acid in wine which performs this necessary activity. You may not think you are an acid hound but if you love food and you love wine, YOU ARE AN ACID HOUND. And while all wines have acidity (think tartaric / malic / citric / sulfuric / lactic +++), no wine can rival Riesling for its amount of acidity and purity of that acidity and penetration of that acidity and cleansing power of that acidity. With each sip of Riesling, you want another bite of food and then another sip of wine and so on and so on. It is as if electricity is running through your palate, prolonging the experience and making you yearn for more…for more Riesling, of course.
While our hero Charlie Brown may not have known the glory of Riesling, we can assume Frank Zamboni found inspiration for his game-changing device in this most unique of wines.
Paul Grieco, Overlord