Well, we have to get back on our schedule, so I hope we it make this time. The detour for examining political rhetoric of the fact-free majority, inaccurately called the silent majority by Nixon, caused our disruption. So, here we are at week 1: wine and food
Age improves with wine.
A meal without wine is like a life without love.
I suspect most people start drinking wine with friends and later move to considering its nuances. This blog post is for people who are not wine drinkers but want to be and ones who are ready to expand their horizons with this nectar of the gods.
If you like sweet drinks, sweet wines are my first suggestion. Otherwise, I’d start with dry (non-sweet) wines. White wines have less of the bitterness that adds to the complexity of reds. Like the bitterness of coffee, that of red wines gives them more of an acquired taste so many people start with sweet or white and move slowly and cautiously to red.
Some of the best sweet wines, which tend to be good with dessert, are from the Rhine Valley region. Germans must prefer sweet beverages, and the Rhine wines, generally Rieslings, typify this taste. Another class of sweet wines are California’s white Zinfandels. With any of these, check the label to verify the sweetness—for most American wines, if the alcohol content is over about 12%, there will be little or no detectable sweetness. German Rieslings are normally detectably sweet and often have higher alcohol content than comparably sweet American wines. Unlike the US, Germany allows sweetening wines, so both high (for wine) alcohol content and sweetness are found in many German Rieslings.
Another large group of sweet wines are the ice wines. Pioneered by the Germans (Eiswein in German), these fairly expensive wines are from grapes that stayed on the vine until the morning after the first frost, when they are as ripe and as high in sugar as possible. They are expensive. A typical bottle of ice wine costs about twice as much as a conventional wine and the bottle is only half the size. Some wineries have ice wine festivals in late fall. These are held in regions where a hard freeze is expected. (There are ice wine festivals in Canada, New England, New York, etc.)
Many people “graduate” from sweet wines to dry white wines, which go especially well (pair well) with non-spicy, savory foods such as chicken or fish. The usual dry white wines that people start with are Chardonnay or Chablis. My own preference is Sauvignon Blanc, made from the Loire Valley white wine grape. It is widely cultivated, and like French red wines, its must (juice) is often mixed with that from other grapes. I find it often has an apply taste.
I think the best red wine for white wine drinkers to start with is Pinot Noir, made from the Burgundy grape. It is much less in-your-face than the Cabernets and Merlots. Zinfandel, the quintessential California grape, produces red wines that are more delicate than Cabernet, but it is not as easy to find now that so much of the California Zinfandel crop goes to white Zins.