April 20, 2006

 Navigation

   Home Page

 News & Features

   News

 Columns & Opinions

   Publisher's Note

   Boomers

   Pinings

   Longshots

   Techie

 Pop Culture

   Film

   TV

   Books
   Video Games
   CD Reviews

 Living

   Food

   Wine

   Beer
   Grazing Guide

 Music

   Articles

   Music Roundup

   Live Music/DJs

   MP3 & Podcasts

   Bandmates

 Arts

   Theater

   Art

 Find A Hippo

   Manchester

   Nashua

 Classifieds

   View Classified Ads

   Place a Classified Ad

 Advertising

   Advertising

   Rates

 Contact Us

   Hippo Staff

   How to Reach The Hippo

 Past Issues

   Browse by Cover


Got milk?

Immigrant wines
The greatest country is well-seasoned with culture
By Tim Protzman tprotzman@sbcglobal.net

It started with the coffee that spilled on my shirt while I was locking my apartment door. The traffic was bad. I was late to the office. My boss said, “Good afternoon,” when I ran in at 9:27 a.m. I had 12 e-mails and four voicemails waiting for me. The director asked me to attend a 7 p.m. function for her, even though I had an 8 a.m. meeting the next day. They screwed up my lunch order. Instead of Black Forest Ham, I got bologna. My daughter called me and wanted to fight. The project I spent two days writing the narrative for was canceled. And even though it was a beautiful spring day full of sun and flowers, the rising pollen count gave me a sinus headache. Heading home around 9 p.m. I stopped to get gas and it was four cents higher than just that morning!

Hoping to have a light supper with a glass of wine and go to bed, I make the mistake of getting my mail. Now I have jury duty. Part of me wanted to go to the window and scream, “I wish I’d never heard of the United States of America!”

(Okay folks, it’s not original, it’s from Edward Everett Hale’s novel A Man Without a Country about a man sentenced to spend the rest of his life aboard a Navy ship for treason. And all the sailors and officers are forbidden to mention anything about the USA to him.)

The unpatriotic tantrum prompted my first smile of the day. I saw the error of my thinking. It was like the time I bought a bottle of Hess Collection Napa Valley Chardonnay for $17.99 — big butter-ball finish with an oaky down-home flavor on first sip and a smooth, creamy finish with just a touch of refreshing acid and low tannins — and dropped it in the parking lot. You know I had the nerve to go back in and ask for a free replacement bottle! They were polite but, firm. No, I wouldn’t get a replacement bottle, but they would give me a price break on the second one. Which was nice, but also a lesson in responsibility.

Sometimes, even in the greatest country on Earth, the answer is no.

And for me it’s a good thing. I’m entitled. I’m spoiled. I’m disorganized. And I’m lazy. If they elected me Dictator of Wyoming, with absolute power over all the bison and grizzlies, I’d still find something to complain about. That’s why I like talking to people from other countries. They have a sense of gratitude. They came from a harder environment. It tempers their sense of self righteousness. It gives them deeper appreciation.

Since immigration has been in the news a lot I’ve thought about all the people from different countries I’ve met. Their stories, their homelands and their new American dreams. I thought about the wines I’ve shared with them. The food they turned me on to. And what they had to do to earn the privilege of being an American.

Mrs. C was Italian. I say “was” because she’s probably dead. She was 96 when I met her and that was 8 years ago. She came to this country as a little girl from Naples, Italy. She doesn’t remember Italy from those days but she took her whole family back in the 1970s and she met all the relatives. Her youngest son died on Okinawa. I met her selling insurance. We ate homemade garlic knots and drank Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio, a white wine whose name means “Tears of Christ.” The legend says that when Jesus ascended into heaven he wept at the beauty of the Bay of Naples. Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio also comes in red. The white runs about $15 a bottle and is straw-colored with the flavor of peach and lemon. The red costs a little more and has a light, fresh chianti flavor. I always think of her stories about living in the North End of Boston in 1909 when I see this wine.

Kristine is from India. She grew up outside of Hyderabad in the state of Andhra Pradesh. It’s very hot and dry there most of the year. She owns a wine shop I frequent. I always ask her for suggestions. Her taste is superb. Her daughter is totally American. She was born here. She talks like a Valley Girl, for sure. First they worked for her brother-in-law. Then she and her husband bought their own place but he died of a heart attack. They took his ashes back to India to be scattered in the river. One day she insisted I try Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. I didn’t want to. She persisted and said she’d give me my money back if I didn’t like it. It was $14.99 and sweeter than the Californian Sauvignon Blancs, but just as crisp and full of tart apple and pear. Now I just buy whatever she suggests.

Clarita was rich when she lived in Nicaragua, but when the politics changed her family was on the losing side. She came to this country as a teenager. She spoke no English. Now she’s in college and her older sister lives in Grenoble, France. Clarita went there over Christmas and brought back the most delightful Pouilly Fume. I couldn’t find it here but Minet Pouilly Fume Vieilles Vignes $19.99 is almost as good.

Shidarta is a Mexican architectural student. He was here on a student visa for two years but he left in January. He wants to come back. He worked at a Mexican restaurant and bar that served Casa Madero Cabernet Sauvignon from Mexico. It’s the oldest winery in North America. The wine was good. There was a heated argument in Spanish when I was there. I asked Shidarta what they were arguing about. They heard me and answered in English, “He thinks Chilean Pisco is better than Peruvian Pisco.” I offered to mediate and we all had two shots of Pisco, fiery white brandy made from Muscat grapes. I couldn’t tell the difference, but I said both were delicious.

“American are such diplomats,” the Peruvian answered, clearly miffed I hadn’t chosen his. I bought them a Budweiser and we all sang along to “We are the Champions” by Queen.

Some things are universal.

Tell Tim your wine stories. You can reach him at tprotzman@sbcglobal.net.


Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com



04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
04/06/2006 Got milk?
03/30/2006 Throw a dart and there's wine
03/23/2006 A life of good wine
03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
03/09/2006 What once was old i new again
03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
02/02/2006 The winos' mecca
01/26/2006 Date-nite drinks
01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
10 Wines To Get Lucky With

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave
A Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting
A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
Finding A Great Medium Weight Drink (II)
Gifts for blood, love or money
Gin
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
Mondovino
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce

Just because it’s healthy doesn’t make it a bad mixer