Red, white, or what?

Having many friends who prefer different types of wine, I decided to put out a little survey to the Facebook world to get a fresh response to the age-old question: Are you a red or white wine person?
The survey offered four options: red, white, bubbly, or no thank you. My findings were completely inconclusive; red and white wines scored the exact same in a sample group of 20 people. There were eight who chose red, eight who chose white, three who chose bubbly, and only one no thank you (because I have smart Facebook friends.)
Now, I definitely enjoy a glass of whites or the bubbles on occasion, but I’m red all the way. Always have been. I find it to be more interesting to drink without food to compliment it, whereas white wine really excels primarily when I have a nice, light summer meal in front of me. “Red is more in your face, more bang for your buck,” says Christine Callahan. “It’s also a lot less sweet most times, which means I can drink more of it without getting a stomach ache.”
Shivani Jani said of her selection, “I tend to drink more whites because I find red wine to be too dry, and I don’t like how that feels on my palate.” My guess is she probably was referring to the generally higher amount of tannins in red wine, creating a more acidic taste and feel about the wine. In fact, many who prefer white wine feel that way for this reason. To all those who feel this way I say, keep on drinking. You’ll come around.

On Pairing

On Pairing

As a follow-up to the pre-thanksgiving day dinner planning post (say that five times fast), I wanted to expand a little more on pairing food and wine. Of course, you can always stick to your basic, red wine with red meat, white wine with seafood and poultry rule if you please, but there’s a lot more to it than that. In fact, those rules can certainly be broken depending on your taste and what the recipe for that particular dish includes. I know when you start learning about wine, the multitude of producers whose names you can’t pronounce and all of the different types of grapes and regions can be extremely overwhelming. You’ll reach a point where you consider saying, “Screw the whole damn thing, give me a Natty Light.” And I can’t even be mad at you for that, because it is a lot to take in. I promise you, though, once you get over the anxiety, you’ll find yourself with a door wide open to endless possibilities of good meals that can become unbelievable.

This chart on pairing is hugely helpful. Whip it out next time you’re stumped about which wine to choose for dinner.

Thanksgiving Struggles

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and I can’t help but be constantly distracted by thoughts of turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. More wine is sold for thanksgiving day dinner than any other meal of the year for very good reason. So many types of foods, so many types of flavors, so many types of wine to pair with.

It can be an intimidating feat to plan what wines you will serve with a meal of this magnitude. I mean, how could a fruity, light red wine that will compliment the saltiness of your turkey possibly also pair well with your super sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top? The truth is, it can’t. And that’s the struggle of thanksgiving. Whether you decide to serve a little of many types of wine so your guests can try different types with different dishes, or simply serve one decent all-purpose wine is completely up to you. What’s more important is how the wine(s) taste and what your personal taste is, and of course that’s completely subjective.
 An article I found in Better Homes and Gardens published a short and sweet rundown of wines that are “perfect with turkey and all the fixings,” and it would be selfish of me not to share.
Happy wine planning, people!

Wine Crosses Borders

I was privileged enough to attend a lecture last week by Yoani Sanchez (who is a badass, by the way. Check out her blog here.) A couple things struck me as I was listening. First, three years of high school Spanish is NOT enough to be able to understand a lecture given entirely in Spanish. Second, thank God for wine. 
Before you roll your eyes, let me explain. I admit that wine does cross my mind a fair amount (totally healthy and not weird), but there was more to it this time than my usual what-I-want-to-drink-with-dinner-later thoughts. Wine is the international language. Think about it; California, Argentina, Chile, Italy, France, Australia – major wine producers exist all over the globe because major wine drinkers exist all over the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re from America, South America, Europe, the Pacific Islands, the North Pole; if someone were to put a glass of quality wine in front of you and say, “Cheers!” “¡Salut!” “乾杯!” “à votre santé!” you’d get the idea whether you understood a word they said or not. Wine needs no translation.
Antonio Rossi, a waiter at Cibo Wine Bar on Miracle Mile who moved from Sicily a year ago, says that wine is what allowed him to be comfortable with people here, as it is such a big part of his culture in Italy. “When I first came to America I could not speak any English,” he said, “But I knew if I could drink with people, we could be friends.”
I don’t know if a truer statement about the measure of friendship has ever been stated. And something tells me Yoani Sanchez and I would have a lot in common with a bottle of Cabernet between us. 

America has a drinking problem.

As I was listening to a lecture on Tuscan wine the other day, it struck me how deeply rooted wine is in the Tuscan culture. Shoot, how deeply rooted it is in the Italian and European cultures in general. It isn’t something you drink to get drunk or wash away your sorrows with while watching The Notebook alone on your couch. Wine is simply a part of life.
Says Carolina Zappa, an international student from Italy, “This whole getting wasted thing doesn’t happen where I’m from. I’ve had wine with dinner since I was little and it’s not a big deal.”
In Europe, the open relationship people have with wine promotes control, knowledge and appreciatio. In America the constraint put on alcohol consumption causes misuse, overuse, abuse, and self-destructive behavior. It could just be me, but something seems a little backwards about that.
 Edward LiPuma, anthropology professor at the University of Miami and avid wine drinker, discussed with me these differences in culture.

“There are more fast-food restaurants in Nebraska than all of Italy. People there are more willing to spend more on food and wine, on quality products, because they appreciate what they put in their bodies. Wining and Dining is a communal experience. It’s meant to be done communally and slowly. The Europeans have that down.”

That sounds so much more appealing than sneaking alcohol into your dorm room and getting obliterated, doesn’t it?