Friday, March 19, 2010

Darwin's Sandwich & Sokol Blosser Evolution

At the dawn of time, when sandwiches first crawled out of the primordial ooze, they were not pretty things to look at. They resembled their ancestors, the open faced sandwich. These unsightly contrivances, though often delicious (See: turkeyius and gravius deliciousius), are incredibly difficult to transport. Test runs involving lunchboxes and picnics didn't end well. Due to the fast paced lifestyle of the human creatures, unless these sandwiches evolved, they would be forever lost. Sandwiches developed a second slice of bread as a survival mechanism; wind kept blowing the lettuce off the top. The top slice became a necessity; mustard, or in exotic cases of mutation, mayonnaise, came much later. Like Darwin, we are perplexed when we witness the evolution of unecessary complexities such as bean sprouts or cream cheese, which confer no real competitive advantage, except perhaps in places like Los Angeles.

What is clear about sandwiches - abundantly clear, in fact - is that when we look at sandwich evolution, we are drawn to one particular region; Western Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is home to what evolutionary scholars refer to as the epitome of "what nature intended" when it comes to the sandwich. While there are other famous sandwich pretenders, this sandwich stands alone.

The Primanti's sandwich.
Big and bold and taller than some toddlers, the Primanti sandwich stands above the rest. The Primanti sandwich, created from Mancini's Italian bread, a grilled meat of your choice, a vinegar based coleslaw, sliced tomatoes and french fried potatoes.

Based on the biological realities of the Primanti, there are few candidates for a wine pairing for such mastery of sandwichology. Candidates are limited for a number of reasons. Reason 1 is that Pennsylvania, my home state, has what rank among the most asinine laws governing the availability of alcohol. You can only get a Primanti sandwich in Pennsylvania, or Florida, and who goes to Florida on purpose? Not I. Reason 2, while there is one really nice wine shop in Pittsburgh, there is only one really nice wine shop in Pittsburgh. The wine must come from there.

Keeping my eye on Reasons 1 & 2, I was excited to find the 13th go round of Sokol Blosser's Evolution. The Evolution is a combination of nine varietals that lend the wine a crisp and fruity palate. This is a bright, off-dry wine with a sweetness that is appealing, yet stays out of the way of the interesting flavor profile of this imaginative blend. As I was wrapping up my purchase, the cashier at the wine shop in Pittsburgh told me, "...that's a good wine."

As the "grilled meat of my choice" is always capicola when it comes to my Primanti sandwich, I immediately thought that the Evolution might be my wine for the job. Because we know from history that the blends Sokol Blosser make are capable of going with a variety of foods, I thought I'd give it a try.

The spicy undertones of the grilled capicola was complimented by the subdued sweetness of this 13th edition of Evolution. The peppery nature of the vinegar based coleslaw was nicely balanced by the bright fruit notes of the wine. The Primanti sandwich, which on it's face is a hardworking sandwich for a hardworking town, is really designed to be accompanied by an Iron City Beer, or if you're feeling fancy, a Yuengling. As anyone from Pittsburgh can tell you, the real element to why Sokol Blosser's Evolution goes so well with a Primanti's sandwich is because it's a wine that doesn't take itself too seriously. Displaying snootiness in Pittsburgh could leave you with a black eye. Sokol Blosser, with its no-nonsense approach to good wine, fits right in.


  1. Nice post on Sokol Blosser, we enjoy the Evolution #9 as well. We love reading about great value Oregon wines, keep us posted on your favorites!


  2. Clive. This is big Lou the guy you were in 'Wig's wedding with. This article almost, (I SAID ALMOST) made me tear up missing home and wanting to make sure I get a 13th and get a Capicola Primanti's when I go home in three days. In fact I will make sure I do. I'll get Hardwig to send me your email so I can give you my opinion on this. I'm fired up on a whole new level to go home and try this pairing!---Lou