A Few Musings on Wine, the Holidays, and a New Favorite Grape

The following post was written for Two Dancing Buckeyes by ‘Dad’ Wolfe who is a regular ‘Wine Bits’ contributor.

Hello, oenophiles and anyone who appreciates wine at any level.  Well, after a bit of a prolonged absence, I’m back to chat about wine.  I hope you have used the past few months to visit wineries, try some new wines and continue the journey of finding out what’s out there and what you like.

The grape harvest season is winding down, a very busy time for vineyards, and wine shops are starting to advertise wines for the holidays.  One of the first seasonal wines is the traditional Beaujolais Nouveau, which is released on the third Thursday of November, just in time for Thanksgiving.  This is a light, red wine, made from the Gamay grape and produced in the Beaujolais region of France.  It is fermented for only a few weeks and, therefore, has very little tannin.  It is intended for immediate drinking and should not be kept for very long, as it does not age well.  In France, the release of the Beaujolais Nouveau is a festive occasion, resulting in all-night and several days-long partying.  There is a rush by producers to get the wine distributed around the world.  Check with your supplier and reserve your bottle or two.  Its fruity flavors work reasonably well with the types of foods typically served at Thanksgiving dinners.  However, don’t hesitate to have several bottles of your favorite wines, be they red or white, as you wish.

Of course, the holiday season also finds sparkling wines coming to the forefront (although ANYTIME is a good time for sparkling wines).  There are many, very good selections available, at reasonable prices, and often are available at special sale prices.  Stock up while there is an ample supply.  Sparkling wines, as well as others, make excellent gifts, as well.  Incidentally, many of the larger grocery stores have outstanding wine departments, with excellent variety and reasonable prices.  They often have sales on many very good wines.  Be a smart shopper and stock up on your favorites when the price is right.

There are a lot of reasons as to why one selects a particular type of wine—type, taste, food pairing, mood, occasion, temperature, etc.  Sometimes we are simply attracted to the label.  Wineries often expend a great deal of effort and money in the design of their labels.  They are trying to attract you to pick up their bottle.  Catchy names are also a marketing tool.  Well, this past weekend, I bought a bottle of wine for no other reason than the name of the winery.  I was in a very nice wine bar and restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, called the Wine Bistro, and discovered a wine on its wine list produced by a winery named Villa Wolf.  Well, now, as my last name is Wolfe (and three generations ago was spelled “Wolf”), I thought to myself that I should have a bottle of that.  I was pleased to discover that the contents, a pinot gris from Germany, were very tasty—light and refreshing.  I will have it again, this time for the wine, not for the name of the winery.  Regardless of the reason, it’s fun to make a discovery.  I suppose you could do no worse than to close your eyes and point to the wine list.  Descriptions are also an enticement and are very helpful when selecting a wine flight to try.  Remember, wine flights are great ways to taste a number of wines without having to purchase a bottle of each until you find out which ones you prefer.

In reading some wine magazines and books, this past summer, I noted an amusing difference of opinion.  In one magazine, there was an article featuring two noted sommeliers, who both bemoaned being asked by patrons about pairing chocolate and red wine, and expressed their view that it was entirely inappropriate.  Then, in a book about wine regions around the world, there was a lengthy discussion about a winery in a resort region of South Africa that thought so highly of pairing wine with chocolate that they made it a feature of the winery.  It seems to me, if you like chocolate, that it will go with just about anything, but, for the record, put me down on the side favoring a good, dark chocolate with a deep, red wine.  Wonderful combination, in my opinion.  Not sure about that?  Try it and decide for yourself.  There’s no right or wrong answer, and the issue shows that experts do differ.  Kinda makes it all more fun that way, doesn’t it?

When last I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be), I was musing about wine clubs and the opportunity they present to try little known wines from even lesser known wineries.  One of those that I found particularly enjoyable was a wonderful white wine from Italy—Pecorino.  It quickly became apparent that I didn’t know enough about the pecorino grape or pecorino wine to write about it (but when has that stopped me before), so I took a sabbatical to do some research.  I wish I could say that I traveled to Italy for that purpose.  But, alas, I did not.  What I did do was seek out some samples of pecorino wine (not as easy as I had hoped) and, upon obtaining a few, did some tasting.  Pecorino wine is not readily available, but, if you can find it, it is well worth the effort.  I may have found a new favorite (du jour, at least). Usually ranging in alcohol content from 13.5 to 14% and aged in stainless steel, this white seems to embody all the things I like in white wines, combined.  It is fruity, with a variety of flavors.  It is full-bodied, yet balanced with moderate acidity.  It has a great mouth-feel and lingers just enough to thoroughly please the palate.  One review described it as having the essence of peach, mango and candied rose petals (although I’m not sure exactly how candied rose petals are supposed to smell), as well as the taste of bright yellow fruits, wild sage, white ginger and white pepper, along with hints of almonds and hazelnuts.  How someone is able to discern all those elements from smelling and tasting a wine is beyond me (you may sense some, all or even none of the suggested flavors and aromas, or others, for that matter—it’s all in what you, personally, perceive), but, in my opinion, this wine is vibrant, refreshing and very flavorful.  Try some and decide for yourself, but, as always, enjoy the journey.

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