Tuesday, November 22, 2005

How to appreciate wine

Today I splurged. It's the night before the day before Thanksgiving, all my readings for class are done, and it's been a while since I enjoyed a glass of wine.

So I spent $15.99 on a bottle of Madiran, a French wine that was recommended by the employees at Bello Vino (who are highly knowledgeable and extremely helpful). I described to them the Bulgarian Mavrud and how it tastes - they knew my budget was below $20. And they found me a similar full-bodied, dark-berried wine that sits on my palate and sends warm happy tingles down my spine.

The secret to my extreme enjoyment of this bottle (I sit here typing this as I sniff the glass, sip and swish the wine around my mouth to maximize my enjoyment) is that I've been drinking cheap wine.

There was a point in my life when I thought that anything under $15 wasn't worth drinking. I was living large in DC, drinking great wines, and at some point I stopped appreciating them.

Since I've moved back to Ann Arbor, I've weaned myself down to Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon from Trader Joe's - otherwise known as Three Buck Chuck. It's not bad. It's perfectly drinkable. And it really makes me appreciate this bottle.

When sniffing the wine, I smell multiple layers of flavors - European blueberry, black currant and blackberry. The flavors are magnified when I taste the wine. I have an appreciation for this wine brought on by drinking so many mediocre cheap bottles - where the biggest element in the bouquet is the smell of wine. I'd almost forgotten - wine isn't supposed to smell like wine.

So the secret for those of us who love good wine who are on a budget is to restrict ourselves to really cheap wine (not garbage wine - that's just a recipe for a headache - just cheap, decent wine) 29 days out of the month. And 1 day out of every month, drink a $15-20 bottle. That bottle suddenly takes on heightened characteristics of excellence and becomes a great experience.

Now that I've shared that with my readers, I will return to my glass of wine, and sniff and swish until I'm satisfied.

And tomorrow night, I'm going home with a bottle of brut rose champagne from my favorite Oregon vintners, R. Stuart, to share with my mother. It should be an excellent evening. After all, the holidays are all about extravagance and splurging and what better way to splurge than with good booze.

3 Comments:

Blogger kitsurubami said...

(ahem)
("Blackcurrant" not "black current.")

7:49 PM  
Blogger kitsurubami said...

(this is from David Rees, creator of Get Your War On, and was in the Huffington Post; it's short and funny but has nothing to do with wine)

How to Be Dumb
READ MORE: Iraq, Dick Cheney, New York Times

Hello, would you like to be dumb? Great! It only takes two steps.

Step #1: Read this explanation for the disastrous occupation of Iraq, courtesy of The New York Times' John Burns:

"To a great extent, the American story in Iraq has been one of a profound clash of cultures - of invaders who came with a belief that they could transplant the virtues of democratic bargaining and a civil society that secures the vital interests of all, only to be confounded by what Iraqis themselves often describe as the culture of Ali Baba, the mythical villain of Baghdad.
In that culture, maneuver and guile, secrets and untruths, terror and treachery are, too often, the coin of the realm for deciding who gets wealth and power."

OK, you're almost done/dumb! There's one more step...

Step #2: Believe this explanation.

CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE NOW DUMB. Feel free to stick your finger up your nose and play the harmonica while crying at Burger King commercials.

(You know what stinks about Iraq's culture, as opposed to, say, every other culture on Earth? I'll tell you: "Maneuver and guile" play a role in deciding "who gets wealth and power." Isn't that SO CRAZY AND BIZARRE??? What kind of kooky culture do they have over there in Iraq, right? I mean, seriously! In American culture, deciding who gets wealth and power is determined by who is the nicest! Duh! That's why Dick Cheney is so polite and so honest.)

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know that anything made outside of the champagne region of france is just sparkling wine.. which doesn't sound nearly as fun which is essentually what champagne is.

There are plenty of great wines for under $20, sometimes they do get better if you just shelf them for a year or two. Then again, I have opened some better wines to find out the cork had spoiled, always a disappointment.

9:10 PM  

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