Wine: Thinking ahead to the holidays
You will gorge soon, have some salad
The drive from Portsmouth to Rockingham is never long enough.
The Great Bay teems with wildlife. I often pull over to gaze at the
Great Blue Herons. To see one in flight is to witness the past. Their
super-wide wingspans, their tucked-under necks bring a vision of
prehistoric pterodactyls to modern times. Last December on the same
stretch of road, I saw a solitary heron wading in the frigid water. A
phone call to a helpful lady at the Audubon Society of New Hampshire
confirmed my sighting.
“Some herons stick around all year, especially during the milder
winters.” She said. “Sometimes migrating only after the ice sets in, or
you could have seen one that spent its summer in far Northern Canada,
and was running late.”
Which got me thinking about this week’s wines. They sit quietly on store
shelves all year, waiting for you to come fetch them.
Winter says holidays. Holidays say excess. And excess says salad. So the
wines we pick must be salad-friendly, with a touch of acidity to
counterbalance the tangy crispness of lettuce, peppers, scallions and
onions. These wines must also contend with the James Dean of grapes —
vinegar, which is wine gone bad.
2000 De Loach Sonoma County Fume Blanc, California, $11.99. A slightly
green taste with no oak. Fruity and silky presenting apricot, vanilla
and pineapple tones. Pleasant, easy-drinking wine. Goes with corn on the
cob, salads, grilled fish and mild sausages.
2001 Bodegas Muga Rosado, Spain, $7.99. Call it blush or rose. This
blend of Grenache, Viura and Tempanillo is acidicly charming, like
licking a lemon. It went well with store bought seafood salad on Ritz
1999 Helderberg Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa, $8.99. This wine presents
dryness with a touch of fruit that’s more subtle and citrus in nature
than the sweeter New Zealand sauvignon blancs. I’d serve this with
chicken — grilled, barbecued, jerk, cajun or roasted — and any vegetable
1999 Avia Riesling, Primorski Region of Croatia, $4.49. Hopefully, a
taste of good things to come from the former Yugoslavia. Low sweetness
and no tannins make this a great aperitif wine that paired well with
chili and nachos. The bargain price is nice too!
1999 Domaine Servin Chablis, France, $10.99. Made from chardonnay
grapes, this chablis was very much, and probably designed to be, like an
American chardonnay. I was expecting a more mineral taste, but the
vintage (good year) and the price won me over. Open it with assorted
domestic cheeses and hamburgers with tomato and onion.
2001Grgich Hills Fume Blanc, California, $22.69. A bit early for this
wonderful vintage, but it still presents great depth and pineapple-pear
notes with a grassy, lemony nose. Serve with a grilled teriyaki
swordfish and grilled zucchini, Portabella mushrooms and onions.
1999 Peachy Canyon Paso Robles Zinfandel, California, $14.99. This
blood-red wine tastes like a gentle cabernet, with a touch of cinnamon
sweetness. Pair this with any hearty grilled meat, ratatouille or
tomato-based sauces. (Note: Paso Robles is the town where James Dean
died in a car crash.)
2000 E. Guigal Cote
du Rhone Blanc, France, $8.99. This has great structure, but is sweeter
than most would want. Use it as a light dessert wine. Made from Viognier,
Marsanne and Roussanne grapes, it has a ripe pear flavor. Food pairings;
brownies ala mode, s’mores, fruit salad or strawberry shortcake.