Peter Aaen claims he was tricked into the restaurant business – although doesn't elaborate, mores's the pity! At any rate, the ex-public school teacher is now restaurant manager and sommelier at Restaurant MellemRum in Denmark's second largest city, Aarhus. He works both on the floor recommending wines to guests and behind the scenes, educating his staff about wine and spirits.
Peter will never forget the most exciting wine he has ever opened with his Code38. It was – curiously, he grants – a 1973 bottle of Champagne, a Blanc de Blanc Mellesime from Jean Laurent, and as he was attempting to lever out the cork it split in half. So he whipped out his Code38 Pro Stealth and effortlessly slid the cork out. "The vintage", he tells me, "is the same as my wife, the bottle was beautiful (as well), and we opened it for her 42nd birthday."
Like any serious sommelier, Peter believes it is his job to appreciate all wines, without favouring any. But he is currently loving Rieslings from Columbia Valley in Washington State ("they cannot seem to do anything wrong these days"); he considers Bordeaux whites to be hugely under-rated; and he doesn't mind Albarinhos either. As far as reds go, "that's impossible to say", he tells me, though goes on to mention cool-climate Cab Savs, young Nebbiolos and "warm and rich Australian Shiraz."
He offers two memorable wine experiences. One was, during a visit to Burgundy, the sampling of "rather crummy Cremant de Bourgogne, made from five different varietals, but (which) had aged for 35 years under the right conditions." He claims it was very developed yet had retained a little citrus "with deep notes of leather, burnt wood and honey."
The second experience was tasting sparkling Shiraz for the first time, at Primo Estate in South Australia's McLaren Vale. "Their Joseph sparkling", he says, "is one of the best I have ever sampled. Sparkling Shiraz is not a big thing in Denmark, and it is probably not going to be…"
Peter would like other Code38 members to try Cabernet Franc from the Loire – preferably Saumur from a quality producer such as Clos Rougeard. He says that its herbaceous aromas go beautifully with "almost any type of meat and vegetables, especially cabbage and fennel."
I love his best food and wine match, however. At an event where, for a change, the food was matched to the wine as opposed to the standard reverse, he tried Amontillado with "Manchego, chanterelles, lightly toasted brioche, truffles and mayonnaise." Wow!
It is the sturdiness and the hardiness of his Code38 which he loves the most. While his friends replace their high-end openers every 1 1/2 years, Peter has dropped his, kicked it, and opened more than 10,000 bottles of wine with it. "When this one feels a bit used", he adds, "I sharpen the blade, soak it in olive oil for a bit and then dry it in the oven at 200C for 15 minutes. Then it is as good as new."
Now there's a precious tip!