We are the merlot
A wine for every state
By Tim Protzman firstname.lastname@example.org
My old cat used to read the newspaper with me every afternoon.
This was when even the smallest cities had morning and afternoon dailies. We’d get the paper around 4 o’clock. I’d spread it on the floor, lie down and start to read. Bitsie the cat would come down from her chair near the window and climb on my back. She’d snooze there until I was done. Bitsie was my first pet and I always remember her when I read a real newspaper. Or when I play that “stripper/pornstar/drag queen” game where you take the name of your first pet and combine it with your first address to come up with a handle you’d use if you were a stripper/pornstar/drag queen. Bitsie Custer just doesn’t cut it.
I read 10 to 12 newspapers online every day. Most are in New England, but occasionally I venture west to read papers from Idaho and Kansas. Most don’t have a wine column, but the Wyoming Tribune Eagle has a cattle report. This micro look at America gives me not only the big picture, it lets me look up close, much like one would examine a set of Sferra limited edition Burano sheets with a magnifying glass to view the thread count.
For all the bad news like accidents and murders, there are the Honor Roll and school lunch menus. If you’re lucky there’s a police log with not only arrests but regular police calls, which chronicle the often funny trials and tribulations of our local law enforcement officials. Here are some of today’s favorites:
• Police checked into a report of a suspicious package, clear cellophane containing white powder around mailboxes on Water Lane. Police determined the contents to be Lifesavers candy crushed by traffic.
• A resident notified police her horse had gone missing overnight and was located at a home in the vicinity of County Road and Durham Road at 5:55 a.m. The resident was waiting for assistance and expected to have the horse retrieved within 25 minutes.
• Animal nuisance, horse on front lawn, Partridge Lane, 11 a.m.
• Police assisted a person after her family reported the resident “out of control” all night, Durham Road, 7:17 a.m.
• People taking horseshoe crabs from the beach, likely without Fish & Game permit, reported on Seaside Avenue, 9:55 p.m
• Animal nuisance, horse loose in cul-de-sac, Partridge Lane, 2:41 p.m. The horse was back at its owner’s property before police arrived.
Follow-up stories provided no more info on the crabs, but the horse is now on probation.
Having traveled extensively throughout New England I’ve come up with a crazy idea. New Hampshire has a state bird (purple finch), a state tree (white birch), a state insect (ladybug) and even a state amphibian (red-spotted newt). Isn’t time for a state wine?
Yeah, it’s a stupid idea but it could catch on. My choice for New Hampshire’s state wine would be merlot. Not because they grow merlot grapes here, but because merlot is the perfect meld of urban and rural. It says we’re cosmopolitan enough to have parking problems in Manchester, yet granola enough to worry about pouring bacon grease down the drain and clogging the septic system in the cottage at Squam Lake. It goes to Fisher Cats games and concerts at the Palace. And it’s the one wine presidential candidates are comfortable with. It’s truly a wine of the people.
Suggested merlot — Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot ($14.99). Structured, dry with cran and elder berry fruit and the scent of leather and violets.
Maine’s a different story: State bird, the pigeon. State tree, pine. State animal, lobster. State fish, lobster. State insect, mosquito. Maine’s uptight and wild at the same time. They have laws about which fish you can keep in your tank, but it’s perfectly legal to sass and tease a moose. My nominee for Maine state wine ended up in a tie between coffee brandy and Olde English 800.
Vermont: State tree, the maple. State animal, Morgan Horse. State insect, honeybee. State wine, Chateau Longueville-Baron de Pichon Longueville ($41.99), a Pauillac that’s pricey from a great producer. I like this wine for Vermont because the Baron was poor but titled and he married a wealthy wine merchant’s daughter. He died and his title passed to his wife and her two sisters who always wore green (like the Green Mountain State) and had many, many cats.
Rhode Island: State animal, insect, fish and bird: the clam. State tree: Sumac. State motto: “We may be little, but we’re big on corruption!” State wine: Newport Vineyards Vidal Ice Wine ($32.49). This was very good and tasted like a great Niagara Ice Wine. Runner-up: Murphy-Goode Alexander Valley Fume Blanc ($13.98). Soft and ripe with pear and melon fruit and a touch of meadow grass on the finish. Served by nine out of 10 Newport mansion owners when they want to impress but are too cheap to pull something out of their wine cellar.
Massachusetts: State bird: chickadee. State flower: rose. State wine: anything with a hefty mark-up and a 10 percent state sales tax on it will do. I like Charles Cimicky “Trumps” Barossa Valley Shiraz — spicy, fragrant with plum, prune and mango fruit; $15.99 in New Hampshire, $21.99 across the border.
Connecticut: State flower: The Hedge Fund. State animal: jaguar. State insect: cockroach. State motto: “Road Construction Never Sleeps.” State wine: Cote Rotie, because it often sounds and looks better than it is.