World of drinkin’
Bottles from across the globe in NH
By Tim Protzman firstname.lastname@example.org
By the time you read this it’ll be Christmas season!
Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and the start of the Hajj and Eid al-Adha and Bodhi Day all happen in December. They’re times for celebration and gathering together.
The reason I mention this is because of Lance. We played high school football together, but he had more girlfriends. We were on the wrestling team, but he had more pins. And Lance’s big complaint was in a gentile world everything was Christmas. He even had a wrestling match on the first day of Hanukkah! He wouldn’t be there to get the gelt or chocolate gold coins from his grandmother. So I celebrate and include all possible holidays because holidays are fun. And you really don’t have to dig too deep to find one that fits everyone’s tastes.
Here’s my holiday wine buying guide so you have wine suggestions for every occasion. I call it “Drinkin’ ’round the World!” which I stole from a South Park episode where a cartoon Russell Crowe was “fightin’ ’round the World!” And if you sing it, you must do so in an Australian accent.
Before we begin I’m going to say something to people who don’t drink. Every year we hear about wine and champagne and holiday cocktails. Then we throw a sop to the non-drinkers by including a non-alcoholic punch. Every stop we make on our world drinking tour will feature at least one fun non-alcoholic cup of cheer. But the best part is all the wines and ingredients are available in New Hampshire.
Our entourage leaves New England heading west. But not too far. Just to the North Fork of Long Island.
• Lieb Family Cellars North Fork Merlot ($17.99). From a small 50-acre vineyard, family-owned. Pretty serious wine, dry with big tannins that will age well. Try the Cabernet Franc too, if you can find it. They only make about 1,000 cases of each (12,000 bottles). And another New York favorite without the XXX, Dr. Brown’s Diet Black Cherry Soda, $1.75 a bottle. Crisp with an aspartame finish, but nice with a scoop of ice cream.
California Here I Come! This year I pledge to drink more Californian wines even if it kills me. Here are a few I’d love to sip:
• Mer Soleil Chardonnay ($35.99) They only make chardonnay and a late harvest Viognier. This is rich and acidic with great potential for food pairing.
• Bonterra Organic Chardonnay ($10.99) A nice little wine with flavor and some structure. Made with free-range grapes and no artificial hormones.
• The Soy Soul Breakfast cocktail of organic pineapple juice and vanilla soy milk.
It used to be when you crossed the equator there was a ceremony and you turned from “polliwog” to “shellback,” but that was on a ship. Today, air travelers mark the occasion with an extra bag of peanuts. Here are some wines from our southern neighbors, the ones who are just down, not under.
• Jelu Malbec ($11.99). From the San Juan area of Argentina, north of Mendoza. Juicy and spicy. Perfect for leftover turkey and creamed squash. Good price too!
• Casa Julia Reserve Merlot ($13.99) From the Maipo Valley outside Santiago, Chile. Genuine merlot with a bit of rustic-ness to it. Not too refined, just tasty and everyday.
• Yerba Mate tea. Like coffee, but a little more bitter and less nauseating on the tummy. This was the drink that got the gauchos up and running.
Across the great southern sea called Moana by the Maori peoples of New Zealand to a land where hobbits and pinot grapes grow equally hairy.
• Isabel Sauvignon Blanc ($17.99) From Marlborough on the northern part of the South Island. Butterscotch and pineapple await the sipper. Firm structured backbone with a vegetal smell and well-rounded acid. Little tannin, no oak.
• Amisfield Pinot Noir ($29.99) From way down there in the South Island’s Central Otago region. This is southern hemisphere pinot. Fruity with a spicy crushed grape aroma and taste, these sun-filled wines are not the pinched, prim schoolmarms their French sisters are. These wines actually rollick. Don’t take my word for it, replay your Cellar-cam security tape to see what they do when you’re not looking.
• Low-octane alternative — make your own L&P Soda. Lemon and Paeroa is an ancient New Zealand treat. Fresh lemon juice and the delicious, mineral-filled naturally sparkling waters of Paeroa Springs combine to make a soda so good Coca Cola bought the entire operation. Can’t get it here, so make your own with Pellegrino water and Meyer lemons from the Orient.
Once you get to Oz you can start “fightin’ round the Vale” at the nearest cellar door, which is Australian for Tasting Room. • Chapel Hill Shiraz ($18.99) From South Australia’s McLaren Vale. Powerful and spicy. You smell it long before you taste it. The finish is a bit jarring but time will round the sharp edges.
Unfortunately, there are no Australian drinks that do not contain alcohol.
“My name is Nodar…. Do you want to smoke?”
Nodar was a wealthy Lebanese student at one of my old colleges. He was from the Bekaa valley, which back then was known for two things; hashish and anti-aircraft guns.
The guns are still there, but producing hashish the traditional way by running through the fields wearing leather vests and then scraping the residue off has moved on to other locations like Afghanistan and British Columbia. But you can legally enjoy the fruits of the Bekaa Valley by sampling wines from Chateau Musar, a 70-year-old Lebanese winery.
• Chateau Musar Cuvee Blanc ($15.99). The style is very Old World. The wine is almost sherry-like. Dense, spicy and low tannins. A must-try wine for those looking to expand their palates.
• Mint tea is a Lebanese favorite. Place three black tea teabags in boiling water and steep for 10 minutes. Add fresh mint leaves, stalks and all, to a mortar and pestle or a bowl and crush with a little bit of sugar or half a lemon. Add to the tea, reheat if necessary and enjoy this thirst-quenching, relaxing non-fermented favorite.
Of all the oceans the Mediterranean is the easiest to cross and the hardest to spell. From ancient times seafarers have crossed from the Levant to Venice, that ancient outpost on the Adriatic. They brought silk and spice. And got, in return, wine and spaghetti.
• Zenato Valpolicella Ripassa ($19.99) This wine has both fresh strawberries and cassis, that concentrated raisin flavor. Great with chicken and red sauce. Good price for Italian craftsmanship.
• Voga Pinot Grigio del Venezie ($11.99) A nice easy-drinking grigio that goes with almost anything. This isn’t a sip, sip, savor, take notes wine; this is a playing Pictionary with friends wine.
• This joy-juice-free coffee drink is sure to get you hyped, and it’s as authentically Italian as Gianni Versace. Caffè marocchino — espresso with a dash of hot milk and cacao powder. Use an espresso maker if you’ve got it or use the espresso pot and steam your milk on the stove. Sprinkle the powdered cacao on top.
Looking for a bottle?
Want to know if a bottle mentioned here is available at state stores? Go to www.nh.gov/liquor and use the product locator. Go to www.nh.gov/liquor/direct_shippers.shtml for a list of wineries that can ship directly to you. Or ask your local wine dealer if they have the bottle or can special order it for you (some special orders require you to buy a case)..