Wine ó A Year Of Wine
A Year Of Wine

By Tim Protzman

Itís time to get a new calendar, and never before have you had so many to choose from.

Time was, you got one from your service station or insurance man. In those days, only the swells went out and bought one, usually a fancy journal with gold embossing and creamy rich paper to chart your daily activities. Today you can spend $100 on an efficient day planner or drop $24.99 on Scenic Arizona, Kitties of the World or Lost Ocean Liners. Itís big business. I still get mine the old-fashioned way ó I pick up a free one.

In 2004 it was Wildlife of the World, from Mikeís Auto Clinic. I never met Mike, but his calendar had all the sol-lunar days marked so Iíd know the best fishing days. I like when my calendars are smart. Tell me the Mexican Independence Day or when Spring Festival in Japan starts.

For 2005, I have a religious calendar from my local parish. It has a lot of saintsí days and tells when the moon is full. Plus, itís got pictures by Titian.

One Christmas I got a wine calendar, but it was one of those padded daily calendars where you rip off each day as it passes. Those are only good when youíre counting down to something special, like D-Day or your seventh birthday. I need to see the entire month at once; it gives me a feeling of power. The ideal wine calendar wouldnít be a bathing-beauty-type publication, full of people youíll never date and expensive wines youíll never afford. It would be fun, have available wines and be given out free. It would be something like this:

January

Congratulations on your decision to explore the world of wine. Itís not an easy one, but this monthís wine is: Pinot Grigio, a white Italian grape thatís smooth and fun to sip and drink. Pinot Grigios are made to be drunk young and fresh and go with fruit, breads and vegetables. Itís the Italian equivalent of iced tea, thirst-quenching and ever present. Itís really easy for novice wine drinkers.

Try Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio, $11.99, from the Trentino-Alto Adige region north of Venice. Itís sunny with lemon verbena and cantaloupe fruit, and nice with soups.

February

Sorry to put you over to reds so quickly, but with Valentineís Day in little February, a red is de rigueur. It wonít be harsh, though, just lively and red for that most romantic of holidays.

Try Echelon Merlot, $10.99, from Californiaís Central Coast region, Monterey County. This producer makes a better-than-average product at a very affordable price. Itís part of the giant Chalone Group. This wine is dry with a rudimentary structure and pleasant cassis, elderberry and fruit notes. Itís drinkable with or without food, and has no young tannins. Pair with lamb chops or even poached salmon or grilled swordfish. Try it with your Valentineís chocolates for a nice combination.

March

Easter and St. Patrickís Day give two opportunities for festivities in March. Sauvignon Blanc goes great with the Lenten fish and corned beef. It also pairs well with sandwiches and salads and most can be drunk young. Try any Californian or one from New Zealand, but my favorite is Sterling, $10.99. It has a crisp tart flavor with endive and parsley hints overlaying green apple and lemon fruit.

April

Is tax time and one wine sure to relieve your headaches and stress is a chardonnay. Itís a more complex white (but not as complex as the 1040 itemized deduction form). Evans Bulletin Place Chardonnay, $7.99, wonít break your tax-depleted wallet and is a fun, lightly oaked wine with richness and creamy, vanilla aftertones. Itís nice with chicken. It comes from the sun-drenched valleys of Southeast Australia, northwest of Sydney, where April ushers in the early fall.

May

Whatís nicer than a Motherís Day dinner with a bottle of wine? A Memorial Day cookout?

Either one will pair well with Mayís selection, Nozzole Chianti Classico, $14.99, from the center of Italyís Chianti region in Tuscany. This is mainly Sangiovese grapes with Canaiolo, and Trebbiano and Malvasia  blended in. It is fruity and light.

June

Flag Day, Fatherís Day and baseball need an American wine, such as a Zinfandel, Californiaís homegrown pride. Try the Gallo Barelli Creek Vineyard Zinfandel , $16.99, from Sonomaís Alexander Valley region. One of the ďnewĒ Gallo products, this wine has delicious flavors of boysenberry and spicy red pepper. Itís the ultimate barbecue wine.

July

Bastille Day and Independence Day make July a good time to splurge on French wine to celebrate freedom. Try Chateau La Louviere 2000, $31.99, from Bordeauxís Pessac-Leognan region. It tastes of licorice, blackberry and grass. Drink with slow-cooked ribs or filet mignon.

August

The dog days are made for light thirst-quenching roses. Charles Backís Goats Do Roam Rose. $10.99, from South Africa is a real value. It has watermelon and ginger taste notes.

September

Back to school means cooler weather and heartier fare. Time to think Pinot Noir. Itís good with Labor Day cookouts and light enough to go with clambake food. It also is nice for a Sunday family dinner for the returning collegiate. Burgundy would be nice, but save the money for the tuition and go Oregonian.

Try Elk Cove, $21.99, from the Willamette Valley. Elk Hillís one of the oldest and most consistent producers. Flavors of cherry, pumpkin spice, vanilla, licorice and strawberry evolve in the glass. There is a slight ammonia nose with rich deep fruit notes.

October

The wine equivalent of Germanyís great Oktober Fest beers is Riesling. Itís not too simple, but not overly complex. It goes great with roast pork, as well as chicken and apple desserts.

Try Schloss Vollrads Riesling Kabinett, $16.99, from the Rheingau region. Choose one with a few years on it, at least an í01. Youíll be rewarded with maple and Golden Delicious apple flavors. This is a superior wine with low tannins and low alcohol content.

November

Think Californian Cabernet for Thanksgiving. Many think itís too dry for anything but the juiciest bird, but it works well with all the other feast components. A well-made cabernet with some age on it will be a thrilling experience as you dig into the stuffing.

Go all out and uncork Joseph Phelps Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, $29.99, one of the best value among the so called ďcult cabernets.Ē A fragrant raspberry and deep fruit with a backbone of tannin frames this wine so well. This wine is wonderfully versatile with food; cheese, chocolate roasts and fowl.

December

A whole yearís passed and now the flakes are flying like so many bubbles in a Champagne glass. Champagneís the perfect holiday drink, light, thirst-quenching and festive. There are many great methode champenoise or sparkling wines, but thereís only one Champagne, named for the region that produces the Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend we all know.

I prefer the pricier pink or rose Champagnes and have found that; Piper Heidsieck Brut Rose, $32.99, gives the best fizz for the buck. Itís full of malted zestiness, lemon rind and a Maraschino Cherry after note. Wonderful for Christmas or New Yearís. Donít serve it too cold.

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

Find the wines discussed in Hippoís food section at state liquor stores. For exact locations of your favorite juice, go to http://www.state.nh.us/liquor/products.shtml


óTim Protzman

 
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