Let me start off by saying I know I am going to catch a lot of shit for this column. No, I do not have a head injury and I haven’t been paid off to write this. I know some of you might even think a video of me writing this column might run on Aljazeera with some bearded guys holding AK47’s to my head as I type and weep.
None of the above is true. I am writing this column because I like drinking wine. There, I said it. It is out there. I have come to a realization about beers. The more I have learned, and continue to learn, about beers, the more I realize there are a lot of beers I don’t like. When I wrote my column High End Fare, Low End Beer I voiced my frustration in not being able to fine a suitable beer to pair with a premium cut of beef. What I didn’t report was that I paired up my Chateau Briand with a great Cabernet Sauvignon at Boston’s Oak Room.
When pairing foods with beers I am pretty good. I leave the hardcore pairings to the pros like our staff writers Frank and Brent. When pairing wine with food, or even just selecting wine, I am a total novice and keep my selections to wine basics. White with poultry, red with beef. It doesn’t get any fancier than that for me… until now.
I received in the mail Dancing Bull’s Guys Guide to Wine. This is a desperate ploy by the wine industry to get some of beer’s market share, or so I first thought. As I read the guide I found that this little pamphlet, or cheat sheet, had some great information in it. I had no clue that when you smell the wine cork in a restaurant you look like a total zipperhead. Think about it. Would you crack a beer and smell the cap? Then why the hell would you sniff a cork? Another faux pas that I have committed was drinking old wine. I had no clue that once a bottle of wine is cracked you have 2 or 3 days to finish it off.
I wouldn’t drink a beer that I capped and put in the fridge a month ago, so why the hell would I do it to a bottle of wine? Probably because I am clueless. Before researching this column I purchased my wine at the local gas station. Therefore I KNOW I am clueless when it comes to wine.
I cracked a bottle of Dancing Bull Cabernet, based on the “guys’ guide.” That seemed like the style that would be the closest match to my tastes. All of the flavors I look for in a good Belgium Dubble were easy to find. Dried fruit and cherries and the oak reminded me of some of my favorite wood-finished beers like Weyerbacher’s Insanity. There was no worrying about this bottle sitting around for a couple of days. With a little help from the wife, the Dancing Bull was quickly polished off.
Seeing that we had no work the next day, and were already home, we decide to crack open a second bottle. Here is where my education in wine brought me to the next level. I grabbed a one of my gas station bottles of wine and popped the cork. Typically I would have no problem finishing off a bottle of my gas station nectar. Drinking this bottle of Red after the Dancing Bull was very hard to accomplish. Oh, did I mention that the name of this wine was “RED?” From the vintners that brought you “WHITE” direct to your gas station shelves comes “RED”.
The “RED” was very acidic in comparison to the Dancing Bull. The alcohol was slightly overbearing, drawing away from what little character the wine had. Had I not had the Dancing Bull first I doubt I would have picked up on this. Now I am being a little more careful with my wine purchases. If I am cooking a $15 steak there is no way I want to ruin the experience with an inferior wine. If I am spending 30 dollars on a turkey and then spending the whole day cooking it you better believe I am going to select the right wine.
With Thanksgiving around the corner we are presented with a great opportunity to flex some wine muscles. If you are unsure about what to purchase, I would suggest asking the clerk at your local wine shop. A Sauvignon Blanc is going to be a perfect match for your Turkey. You should be able to pick up a bottle for under $10. Dancing Bull’s guide likens this wine to an American light beer. Floral flavors with touches of cut grass and a light body; sounds like a pilsner to me. If you want me to suggest a pilsner, I have a laundry list for you. For a Sauvignon Blanc I can only suggest one. If you don’t know what brand that is, you have the reading comprehension of one of those kids on the short bus.
Another gem the Men’s Guide to Wine clarified for me is what country I should look for when buying wine. French reds, German whites? Should I go American and get something from Nappa Valley? It is not a big thing. Good wines are produced all over the world… just like bad ones. Your big clue is; if it is in a box it is probably not the best choice. Avoid names like Mad Dog 20/20 & Wild Irish Rose. If the wine comes in a pint bottle, and has a screw cap, it definitely isn’t the best match for your Thanksgiving turkey or for a quiet evening with a special lady.
Opening a bottle of wine can be an event, an event that you can invite someone to share with you. When I was dating my wife I would cook her a nice meal every Friday night. After shopping for the perfect ingredients for our meal I would find the ideal bottle to go with that meal. All of this talk of wine makes me want to revisit those days. Tonight shall be a nice fillet, potatoes sautéed in olive oil, garlic and scallions, asparagus with hollandaise sauce and of course, a nice bottle of wine.
– Bruce G. Owens, Jr.