Friday, January 18, 2008

Wine Times

I recieve an email on a daily basis from the PAGE A DAY calendar people. The emails I get are from the Karen MacNeil Wine Lover's Page A Day calendar. On occasion, I may share some of the interesting notes and ideas Karen shares in the calendar. Karen MacNeil is the author of The Wine Bible, a must have for any enophile, amateur or professional! She's also the author of Wine, Food and Friends, which I recieved for Christmas.

This poster available for purchase here.

Sometimes I like to carry a wine right through the meal—from appetizers through the main course—and even turn it into dessert! One of my favorite wines to do this with is syrah, whose deep sensual berry flavors are unbeatable. I serve wild mushroom bruschetta with syrah as a first course, then go on to grilled lamb chops (a perfect syrah partner) and finally a dessert of blueberries with syrah syrup in old-fashioned coupe glasses. Here’s how to make this delicious dessert:

In a saucepan, combine one 750-milliliter bottle of syrah with 1/3 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture is reduced by half (about 20 minutes). Add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and a small dash of cracked black pepper. Cool. Put three 6-ounce cartons of blueberries in a bowl. Pour syrah mixture over them, cover bowl, and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve in shallow coupe glasses with chocolate biscotti alongside. Or, for a real hedonistic treat, pour over vanilla ice cream.

The other day, a magazine editor asked me to recommend a certain type of wine. The bottle I suggested cost about $30. “But that’s a lot to spend on a bottle of wine,” she said. I then asked her if she drank coffee. Her response? Lattes, two or three a day from a nearby coffee chain at a cost of $10 or so a day. By comparison, the spectacular wine I was suggesting was $6 per serving.

Moral of the story: Most beverages are sold in single-serving containers. Most wine, of course, is not. There are five glasses of wine in every bottle—an important factor to consider when you think about the cost of a wine. A glass of great wine might just be less expensive than your daily caffeine fix.

Earthy: Many red wines, notably pinot noir, are described as “earthy.” While this single word can describe a wine, there are permutations of earthiness that are fascinating to smell and taste. An earthy wine, for example, may exhibit one or more of the following:
Garigue: the smell of wild resinous herbs (thyme, lavender) against the hot baked earth. Many Provençal wines are described as having a garigue aroma and flavor.
Duff: the smell of the wet forest floor and rotting leaves (called sous bois in French)
Mushroom: a raw mushroom or truffle aroma
Animali: the attractive sensual/sweaty aroma of the human body
Barnyard: the aroma, sometimes pleasant, sometimes not, of animals in a barnyard

Dear Karen: A wine shop in my neighborhood recently advertised an event called a vertical tasting. What exactly is a vertical tasting?
Dear Reader: A vertical tasting is a tasting of several different vintages of the same wine, made by the same producer. For example, a tasting of six different Château Margaux—let’s say, from the 1961, 1982, 1985, 1990, 1995, and 2000 vintages—would be called a vertical tasting. Vertical tastings are conducted in order to understand how the same wine differs from year to year, as well as to experience ways in which it remains the same no matter what the weather might bring. Vertical tastings also provide an opportunity to see how aging affects wine and to identify personal preferences for younger or older wines. For example, although much fanfare always attends older wines in a vertical tasting, some tasters may discover that they actually prefer the younger ones for their richness and lively fruit characters.

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