Thomas Jefferson loved his wine — French wine in particular. Winston Churchill also loved his French wine, especially Champagne. Comparing the drinking patterns of the two statesmen, one would think President Jefferson tended toward tea-tottering compared to the prodigious consumption of the Prime Minister. Both men had something else in common: little regard for personal financial management.
Visit a spirit shop, a mass market wine store, or a national chain restaurant and you see pretty much the same wines: Woodbridge, Franzia, Yellowtail and other familiar names, which are big hits with the average American wine connoisseur. Go into a high-end eatery and the wine list is suddenly a strange read in most instances, with names like Chateau d'Yquem, and the prices make quantum leaps from $35 to $50/bottle to as high as $220/bottle. During a visit to Calgary, Canada, we went to an upscale Italian restaurant that had
Wine tastings where you try something different than what you typically consume can either open a new discovery of something to adopt, or a thankful realization that this was something you probably will not ever drink again. Fortunately, in this instance, the wines involved scored a touchdown in taste enjoyment. The first tasting was for 12 zinfandel wines, from 12 different wineries and different vintages, accompanied by a wide assortment of food to sample while sipping our zins.
The British Prime Minister and King Louis XV both drank bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux wine on a regular basis. In 1855, Napoleon instructed wine experts to classify France's Bordeaux wines, and this same wine earned a top spot as a Premier Cru, a status it still holds. The most famous bottle of this wine was supposedly owned by Thomas Jefferson and sold at an auction for $156,000, making the purchaser eventually regret such an extravagance when it turned out to be a fraud.
I've written a few times about blind wine tastings and wine tasting protocol. Someone asked me if I drank all my wine that way; see, swirl, smell, sip and savor — or spit it out. My answer is no, because the wines I drink on a regular basis don't need a thoughtful analysis every time I drink them. They are simply enjoyed. Tasting wine is for those who want to make new discoveries in a wine drinking experience.
If you are going to drink just one wine at a summer evening meal, make it one of the many good types of bubbly I have mentioned in previous articles. If you are looking for a different kind of bubbly, look to Germany for a very drinkable treat. During a recent visit to Faribault, Minn, I stopped in a local Haskell's and got in on a tasting of a never before tasted sparkler — Schloss Nicholas from Germany. This is a non-vintage sparkler that was delightfully refreshing on the hot afternoon when tasted. The taste led to purchasing 2 bottles — on sale at $10.99.
With the possible exception of Thomas Jefferson who liked just still wine — no bubbles — I think I'd be safe in saying that probably 99 percent of the wine drinking population today loves their sparkling wines: Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, and when you can get it, Sekt. Each of these sparkling wines comes attached to a country: Champagne, exclusively from Champagne, France; Prosecco from Italy; Cava from France; and Sekt from Germany.
The best, most explosive pop I've ever heard recently came from a bottle of Champagne, specifically a Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne. The bottle was properly chilled, and upon removing the muffler (wire cage over the cork) and draping a towel over the cork to begin a twist, the pressure within literally popped my toweled hand away from the bottle.
Sherry wine is perhaps the most underappreciated wines to pair with food. While I have never tried it with my wine class students, a review of the literature claims that it is being discovered by the younger generation — the millennials — because of the wide offerings in styles and flavors.
Would "two glasses of red wine with dinner, three or four beers after, followed by two shots of vodka" every day for decades be considered moderation? Not according to the physician giving an 83-year-old patient his physical. Moderation means to have enough wine to enjoy with company of family or friends. Drinking wine to solve problems will not work any better than drinking water or milk will. Ask yourself then, why is it you drink wine?