I don't know whether to file this under "mea culpa" or "pleasant surprises." At dinner the other night with some musician friends, I ordered a bottle of Andrew Will Ciel du Cheval Red Mountain 2001, a Bordeaux blend from Washington.
Someone from outside can make some fascinating wines in a different region. All those Champagne houses changed the style of sparkling wine in California, and, most famously, Baron de Rothschild got together with Robert Mondavi to make Opus One in Napa Valley, bringing a different sense of legitimacy to California Cabernet.
The topic of price vs. quality in wine keeps coming up, and not just among savvy wine drinkers looking for the most bang for their buck when they buy a bottle. Last week, Steven D. Levitt, an economics professor, made a pretty bold assertion in his Freakanomics blog for the New York Times.
Usually, when I buy a case or half-case of wine, I drink a bottle or two from the stash in the first year to get a handle on the wine, then open the rest when I expect they have reached maturity. Somehow I managed to keep my hands off the half-case of Cayuse Syrah En Cerise 2000 I had bought when it came out, so I had all six bottles to pour for guests last week when my wife and I celebrated our 40th anniversary with 30 friends and family.
A sommelier can make a multi-course dinner special by finding a great wine-and-food pairing for each dish. In the past few years, in pursuit of the perfect match, some sommeliers have strayed outside this wine-only boundary.
Hamachi, that sushi bar staple, has a distinctive flavor. White wine, it would seem, should serve it best. It's kind of a fishy-tasting fish, the sort of thing, like mackerel, that make a red wine taste odd.
I like dessert wines, a confession that should come as no shock to longtime readers. I even like to drink sweet wines with savory food, especially cheese. Sweet wines go well with spicy dishes and those that have some fruit or other sweet elements, but when they're good, they don't need food to complete to the picture.
What do you call a sweet red wine that's had some alcohol added to it to bring it up to about 20 percent? If you said Port, you're soon going to be behind the times. Australia, which makes some of the world's finest fortified wines, including stuff it has been calling Port, has concluded an agreement with the European Union to desist in using names like Port and Sherry for their fortified wines.
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