Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wine as Beverage vs Wine as Cocktail -- an Important Difference!

It can be helpful to understand wines as falling into one of two categories: Beverage Wines, and Cocktail Wines. This will save you a lot of grief in choosing and enjoying a wine.

Beverage Wines: The idea is that Europeans, who drink wine with meals, want a beverage to wash down what they eat -- for that you need something like but flavorful, like a Burgundy-style Pinot Noir -- not a big Zin that would be shouting at you while you're trying to eat. This is a Wine as Beverage situation. Here, the focus is the meal, with the wine accompanying -- not the other way around.

Cocktail Wines: In America, we mostly drink wine at parties -- cocktail parties where the booze is wine, not mixed drinks. At a cocktail party, the drink is the center of attention, and this situation favors big, dramatic wines that can stand up to that kind of attention. You are drinking a cocktail, not a beverage. And as with any cocktail party, you serve cocktail-party-style snacks, but that's just to refresh your palate, not to be the focus.

If you drink cocktail wines when you should be drinking beverage wines, you'll be unhappy. And vice-versa. It explains why otherwise sophisticated experts like Eric Asimov can write in the NYT recently, in response to a comment by winemaker Leslie Mead of Talley Vineyards, who said "I think there’s a place for every style. Sometimes I like water with dinner and wine on its own," can write in reply, "I can respect that point of view, but I can’t understand it." He doesn't understand why there could be two uses for a wine -- he can't enjoy one wine as a beverage and also enjoy a different wine as a cocktail drink. This baffles me.

But it doesn't have to baffle you -- if you can set aside your prejudices that you must choose sides (and get pushed into choosing the side of the wine snobs like Eric whether your heart is in it or not) -- you can greatly enjoy both styles -- if you have them each in the situation in which they shine best.

Me, I love Rosenblum's biggest Zins -- and also Burgundies most subtle and light Pinots! Am I crazy?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Trader Joe's has Nero D'Avola! Great stuff!

Hit of a recent tasting among friends, Trader Joe's Archeo Nero D'Avola costs about $4 and tastes great! A fat Sicilian red. Yum. Can't believe the price.