Wine — Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink

Wine between the seasons

Finding a great medium-weight drink 

By Tim Protzman []

It was a quirky little marriage that no one thought would last.

Most people thought it was a fad. It defied all present-day product marketing data. In fact it started as a mistake.

In 1953, Swanson Foods overestimated Thanksgiving turkey sales by half a million pounds. With a use-it-or-lose-it attitude they came up with a pre-packaged Thanksgiving Dinner, available year round, called the TV Dinner. It sold like crazy. People all over put the aluminum tray in their oven, set the temp at 325 and sat down to watch Uncle Miltie. No more mess or fuss in the kitchen and it came with a decent peach cobbler.

The TV Dinner craze has abetted, but we still enjoy television with our food. And everything else. We workout to the TV, we have onboard movies in cars, we fall asleep to TV. Even while I write this column a 19-inch is on in the background.

TV brings us together in times of crisis, it educates and occasionally inspires. TV soothes our loneliness and helps us relax. It frustrates and angers and probably most importantly, it makes money. Television was always intended as a vehicle to convince consumers to buy products.  Remember it was invented by RCA, General Electric and Westinghouse. It was just the next product innovation, a radio with pictures.

And today with all the hype and hoopla TV can summon, we celebrate the new fallseason, that lush panorama of  American Culture. Will it bring something great, or just a bunch of shows that fail?

The minute I saw the new season of The Apprentice, on NBC, I was hooked. Trump was a good boss. Courteous and fair. In the second episode they sold doughnut ice cream and had a caviar dinner. I liked it because of the corporate politics, the food and getting to see someone else get fired for a change.

 Pairing a beverage with this show is easy, because the setting is corporate. Just follow the rules of corporate drinking:

• Avoid shots or all hard liquor drinks. Why label yourself a heavy hitter?

• Be frugal minded!  More than one career has been wrecked by ordering a snifter of Louis XIV Brandy.

• You should drink bottled beer, anything with tonic or white wine. These drinks indicate you’re a team player and not overly ambitious.

For the suggested viewing libation, we can go a little more upscale since it is Trump:

Beer—Schneider Weisse Bier. This German beer uses a higher amount of wheat versus barley in the brewing process. Beer is made from malt, which is grain that’s been allowed to germinate, then dried. The malt is ground into a mash called wort, hops are added to impart flavor and the mixture is ready for fermentation. Wheat beers are usually unfiltered and less bitter than traditional pilsners. $6.50 a bottle in a tavern.

For wine, try Fisher Vineyards, Whitney Vineyard 2001 Chardonnay from Sonoma, $39.99. This wine from vineyards owned by the Body by Fisher automobile heirs presents a banana-and-lemon nose with only the faintest oak-and-butter finish.

Not losing any stride since the end of Friends, Matt LeBlanc is back as Joey Tribiani.

He’s still and actor, but he’s moved in with his sister, Drea de Matteo, who apparently survived her mob hit on The Sopranos and is now in the witness protection program. Joey is a typical sitcom about Italian Americans living in Hollywood.

Suggested wines:

Silverado Sangiovese from Napa, $13.99. While most Californian efforts with the principal grape of Chianti are weak, this one manages to put more meat on its bones. Fruity flavors of plum and cherry with a nice depth and moderately tannic finish.

Or, Gabbiano Chianti, $9.99. All real chiantis are made from  sangiovese grapes and this is something you’d taste at any typical Sunday dinner. Fruit flavors with a touch more clove and less tannin on the finish.

ABC may see the ratings light of day this year with some far-out shows. Boston Legal with Emmy Award winner James Spader takes up where The Practice left off. Desperate Housewives plays like Knots Landing on crank, and Lost is Survivor and General Hospital rolled into one. All very out-of-the-box thinking, deserving an avant garde wine.

Château La Roque Cupa Numismae 2000 Pic St Loup, Coteaux du Languedoc $17.99. Comes from Southern France and Pic St Loup is a hill north of Montpelier, that gives the growing area its name. The region’s making waves, experimenting with blends and new varietals. This one’s a mouthful of sun and spices with candied apple and burnt orange flavors. 60 percent syrah, 40 percent mouverdre.

The question is—will the wine or the shows age better?

On the WB, there’s Jack & Bobby, which has nothing to do with the Kennedys. It’s kind of a train wreck, but the premise is cool; we see the early life of future President Bobby. The characters are well done but a little annoying. Christine Lahti plays the pot-smoking mom who’s also a college professor. The show’s filled with teenaged angst.

I’d choose an angry but infinitely maturable wine like 2002 Oyster Bay Pinot Noir Marlborough, $17.99. Tannic and angry now, but wait five years. Strawberry flavors with a hint of chocolate and a feminine side that any single mother raising two boys would love.

CBS offers baseball fans The Clubhouse with the trials and tribulations of a Major League batboy as a way to lure younger viewers. Great acting, but a little too cutesy.

Any wine from Bonny Doon Vineyards will go well with this show, but I’m partial to the Ca’del Solo Big House White en Screw Cap. A mixture of every available white wine on the planet, that comes out a bit sweet at first sip, but then mellows and melds well with comfort food like s’mores. $10.99

Quintuplets on Fox has five siblings whose first names begin with P. There have never been children who shared a womb who look more dissimilar. It’s like a vertical tasting and the perfect wine to do that is Chateau Cantenac Brown, a third-growth Margaux that’s a cabernet (65 percent) and merlot (30 percent) blend with 5 percent cabernet franc. Each year they change the percentages to adjust for harvest conditions so try five different years. The wine retails for $24.99.

UPN’s Kevin Hill takes an old premise of a man who inherits his cousin’s baby and shows how they bond and how it changes his life. What makes this special is he’s an attorney in Manhattan. In the first episode he’s at home on a Friday night for the first time since 8th grade. Get used to it!

My suggested wine for Kevin Hill would be a nice champagne to toast goodbye his former life. Something you can drink after the kids are in bed to put a little romantic spin on everyday life.

Roederer Estate Brut, $18.99, is a Californian-made sparkling wine from the great champagne maker Louis Roederer. Toasty lemon zest and malty sweetness appear in your mouth. The finish is dry and pleasing.

And if you had his money go for Pol Roger Brut Rose, a fragrant, dry pink champagne that appeals to even those who don’t like champagne. A premium champagne at a very good price—$49.99.

Tell Tim your wine stories. You can reach him at

Find the wines discussed in Hippo’s food section at state liquor stores. For exact locations of your favorite juice, go to

—Tim Protzman

2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH