One recurring theme whenever the topic of New World wines comes up is the perception of some that so-called "fruit bombs" do not go well with food. This strikes me as today's virulent version of the old saw that wine must be dry to go with food.
Neither idea is true. Maybe for some, but not for the majority.
Of sweet wines with food, if you sweeten your iced tea or drink soft drinks with lunch, how can you complain about 1 or 2 percent residual sugar in a glass of wine?
Likewise, if you're willing to sip a mai tai with dinner, or, oh, let's say passion fruit-infused iced tea, what fear should a fruit-forward wine hold?
Today's approach to food calls for wines with more flavor. Cooks and chefs freely borrow from Asian, Latino and other non-wine cultures, introducing spiciness, sourness and sweetness you don't usually find in food from traditional wine cultures. Delicate table wines can lose their distinctiveness in the maelstrom of flavors.
Now, some chefs have a touch that can use these flavors with finesse, and their food can match up with the delicacy of traditional wines. But mostly we find bold flavors, and that signature sweetness and spice.
I happen to like fruit-forward and even sweet wines with these modern foods. The flavors and sweetness hold up to chiles and sweetness in the food. And guess what? These are exactly the wines that taste especially good on their own.
There's another very traditional concept that fits into this idea. On a visit to Italy early in my career, I shared a great bottle of Barolo with its producer. The wine was magnificent, complex and powerful, a huge mouthful of flavor, supported by raging acidity and cheek-puckering tannins, but, damn, it was one of the compelling wines I had ever tried.
"What do you drink this with?" I asked the producer.
"I drink it by itself," he responded. "We call wines like this 'vini di meditazione,' wines for meditation."
What a perfect concept for today's big, powerful wines, the ones some traditionalists derogate as "fruit bombs." You don't use them to wash down dinner.
Meditation, anyone? It's perfectly Zen.
Andrew J Walter — Sacramento,CA — September 30, 2008 3:50pm ET
Brad Kanipe — Atlanta — September 30, 2008 10:33pm ET
Stephen Lima — Wakefield, RI — October 2, 2008 12:30am ET
Emily — October 3, 2008 7:13am ET
Ron Zimmerman — October 4, 2008 4:53pm ET
Kirk R Grant — Bangor, Maine — October 5, 2008 9:57am ET
Emily — October 6, 2008 10:20am ET
Jeffrey Ghi — New York — October 6, 2008 4:47pm ET
Arnaud Tronche — Chicago — October 6, 2008 5:28pm ET
David Allen — Lufkin, Texas — October 7, 2008 10:15am ET
Stephen Lima — Wakefield, RI — October 7, 2008 10:53am ET
George Mcgrath — Las Vegas — October 16, 2008 1:46am ET
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