There are no rules for food and wine enjoyment at Christmas. As families evolve, so do their traditions: turkey or ham as the centerpiece, with minimal alcohol when the children are young, to a broader selection of both food and wines as they mature and move out on their own. Food choices run the gamut of turkey, ham, roast beef, fish, or any other meat as your main course. Or you may have moved to charcuterie nibblers as you watch TV waiting for Santa to arrive, or for circulating guests dropping in for a touch of cheer.
FARGO — Consider adding Greek wines to your testing/taste palate. You may or may not like them, but at least give them a chance to win you over, for a number of reasons: 1. Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. They are the ones who introduced wine to Europe, some 6,000 years ago, and revered it so much that they had a wine god named Dionysus who was credited with converting grape juice into heady wine. This led to the development of cults and temples where he was worshipped. 2. They developed advanced trellising system.
Pinot noir never received as much exposure to the general public than it did in the movie "Sideways." There, the pseudo wine expert Miles, played by Paul Giamatti, hyped it up as the ultimate red wine for sophisticated wine aficionados to enjoy.
In an earlier column, I listed some inexpensive wines that are available on the market and enjoyable to drink. Because the response to the article was favorable and the holiday season is upon us, I thought it timely to make some additional suggestions that are both a bargain in price and very drinkable as well.
FARGO — Good food and good wine go together like love and marriage. Like marriage and love, if the two don't complement each other in some way, the interest fades. Enjoying a favorite 'comfort food' meal at the local Olive Garden the other night, I was intrigued by a Tuscany red blend named "Head to Head", and with reassurances from the waiter, ordered a bottle to have with my meal. A stellar decision.
The wildfires of this past summer in western Canada, and the recent tragedy of wildfires in California, have affected growers and producers of wines. The worst case of destruction was in the Napa and Sonoma wine growing regions where vineyards, wineries, homes and lives were destroyed. Where vineyards were not directly threatened by fire destruction, but witnessed their vines and grapes shrouded in smoke and in some cases covered with ash, the smoke scent will be noted when the wines made from those grapes are opened.
When asked what got me started on my interest in wines, I say something about how it started in Italy while in the Navy, enjoying their bubbly and Chianti. Or, when I experienced rhubarb wine from the Maple River Winery in Casselton, N.D. The taste of rhubarb wine was one of those "Wow" experiences that encouraged my wife and me to explore utilizing our abundant rhubarb crop for something other than an array of rhubarb desserts. Wait a minute, some of the readers may be saying, "Rhubarb isn't a fruit; it just has sour stalks and poisonous leaves."
FARGO — To celebrate International Champagne Day on Oct. 20, stop by your local spirit store to see what they have to offer. You might be surprised by what you find.
Just kidding of course, I'm really a middle class wine drinker — somewhere above the $15 price point, and around or below the $30 bottle. Occasionally I will be tempted by a $50 bottle of what everyone has deemed a classic, such as a bottle from the famous wineries of Chateau Montelena and Stag's Leap for their victories in the "Judgment of Paris." How on economic earth do producers get a bottle to market for $5 or under? Are these just 'lost leaders' to get the unwary into the store and perhaps purchase a bottle or two where a profit is possible?
Seasoned skiers know that the higher in elevation one goes, the potential for sunburn increases. When we are in the mountains, we wear clothing to cover our body, hats to protect our head, and anything not covered, we treat with sunscreen. Research has shown that grapes grown at higher elevations will also contain higher levels of resveratrol in their skins; that translates to a higher concentration of resveratrol when those grapes are used in making red wines.