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Why Not Wine?

August 2, 2009

Last week I made the case for how drinking wine with dinner not only enhances a meal, but also makes it more relaxing, and has resulted in my becoming a more thoughtful eater.

I also asked for you to comment on what you drink for dinner and what goes into that decision.  The range of responses was certainly interesting from Raf’s list of all the varietals he drank in the past forty-eight hours to Jerry’s claim that he just doesn’t care for the stuff.

So armed with this new information, today I am going to try to address the barriers some of you have encountered.
1) Wine goes with fancier meals.

Sure.  But wine is also very flexible, and can do two discrete things with casual meals.  For one, it can be just as laid back as eating a frozen pizza in sweatpants.  Just open a cheap montepulciano, pour it into a water glass, and think nice thoughts about it helping to push the cheese out of your system, while its acidity clears the grease from your mouth.

For the other, wine can dress up a casual meal and turn it into an event.   Pull out some nice wineglasses on a weeknight, and grab a stately cabernet sauvignon to complement some grilled hamburgers.  You could even pour the wine as you light up the grill, so you can watch how it develops over the evening.

Mental note: I need a grill.

I also feel compelled to say that any food that traditionally goes well with beer, like burgers or barbecue, also goes beautifully with a dry sparkling wine.  It’s the bubbles.  Although I have to say that if I’m eating spicier foods, I am sticking with beer.  I have tried the fruitier off-dry whites with ethnic foods, and it’s a fine pairing.  But if I’m quenching a fire, wine just isn’t going to cut it.

2) Wine makes me feel lousy the next day.

Getting old is no fun.  And portion control isn’t much fun either.  So if drinking a bottle of wine makes you a little loopy and headachy the next day, I have a surprising answer.  German wines.  Specifically lower-alcohol German Rieslings.  You can find these at less than eight percent alcohol by volume, which is about half the kick as some of the largest zinfandels that can weigh in at sixteen percent.  At the very least it’s worth a try.

3) Wine is left over and goes to waste.

Or maybe you are excellent with portion control, but less good about using leftovers.  Well, there are plenty of good wine storage tips.  There is the vacuum pump, the inert gas dispenser, and the old fashioned re-bottling in a smaller vessel.

There are two other options that you may consider.  One is a bit higher-end and the other a bit more everyday.  There is an online merchant that specializes in half-bottles of wine that one commentator at the FLB continues to promote: HalfWitWines.

The second alternative is wine in a box.  And before you get all bent out of shape, wine in a box has seriously improved over the past several years.  Much as screw-top closures are being used on better bottles, some wine boxes are being produced that are of much higher quality than in the past.  The bag of wine that lives inside the box keeps air from touching the wine.  This is a good thing, and will keep your wine fresh and zippy for longer than almost any other method.

When shopping for a boxed wine, the original guidelines still apply.  I have had some very drinkable wine from Black Box, and if awards mean anything to you, Bota Box just received one earlier this year.  Sure, it’s not going to knock your socks off, but for value and longevity it is sure hard to beat.

4) Wine doesn’t taste very good to me.

There is not much I can do with this.  Taste is a very individual thing.  I would like to think there is a wine for everyone, and that perhaps wine doesn’t taste very good because you are listening to wine snobs and not your palate.  If you hate coffee, and prefer sweets over savory snacks, your tastes are out of line with the wine cognoscenti.  Sweeter wines might be the answer.  And sweet does not need to be simple either.  The best sweet wines are balanced with bracing acidity, and I would imagine New York would be a great climate to grow this kind of wine.  But I have not had the time to adequately explore our regional wineries.  Grump grump grump.

If anyone is interested, I’d happily work with you directly to try and figure out what wines would be good for you.  And if you are too shy to post a comment or question, feel free to contact me directly by email.

I love a good challenge.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 18, 2009 10:33 am

    I was morally opposed (ok, maybe that’s a little strong) to boxed wine until I tried the Bota Box. Not bad.

    Previously all of my boxed wine associations came from bad memories of white zin in a box. Ew.

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