Jun 11, 201411:15 AM
Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

I Don’t Drink That

Dissecting people's common wine don'ts

luisrock62, stock.xchng, 2006

Last week in this space I used the time-worn phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do,” in conjunction with summer drinks, notably snow balls, that can easily become laden with far too much sugar. I suggested a more constrained approach with syrups, allowing the sugars in the rum or other alcoholic adult additives to carry the sweet taste we all crave in a cup of properly crushed ice with flavorings.  
 
And that put me on the path to thinking about other matters where we really don’t “get” the situation but have a hard opinion. We are all guilty of such thinking about something which is encapsulated in the “Don’t screw me up with the facts” lifestyle.  
 
I Don’t Drink White Wines
 
This one astounds me. There are actually people out there who enjoy wine, or at least claim to do so, and they don’t drink white wines. 
 
I have asked them why not and the answer is they don’t like white wine. So I probe further as to what white wines they have had. Chardonnay? Sauvignon Blanc? Viognier? Chenin Blanc? Riesling? Rousanne? Albarino? Gruner Veltliner? Pinot Grigio? And from where did they have a white wine that they did not like? 
 
The point is there are too many white wines, too many points of origin, not to have found something that really made a good impression. Maybe, and it often comes down to this, they had something that was not properly made, was stupidly cheap, was not in good order, and/or did not go well with the occasion or the meal. The end result was, “I don’t like white wine.” 
 
If you are one of those folks who won’t even consider trying a white wine, deny yourself in the privacy of your own home. When in public, smile and say nothing.  
 
No, Thanks. I Don’t Like Chardonnay
 
This is a corollary of the above note. Here again, maybe the chardonnay you previously experienced was of the difficult-to-love variety. But, and factor this in, someone is drinking chardonnay. Lots of people consuming lots of chardonnay.
 
One out of every three bottles of wine sold in America, the largest wine drinking nation on earth, is chardonnay. What do all those people know about all those bottles of chardonnay that you don’t know?  
 
I will grant you that the chardonnay in this country went through a dumb period. Too much new oak used to age the wine and grapes that were allowed to sit far too long in the vineyard creating an alcohol monster devoid of subtle character. 
 
The landscape has not all changed, but it is better with lower alcohol levels and more judicious use of new oak barrels. Still, if you have been turned off to New World Chardonnay, and I could see your point several years ago, you may want to consider picking up a white Burgundy from France. These wines may not only completely change you mind about Chardonnay, they may also change your mind about the whole concept of wine. These truly are stunning beverages delivering some incredible flavors no other wine can provide. They ain’t cheap but they are worth every penny. 
 
Rosés Are Way Too Sweet
 
Rieslings Are Too Sweet
 
Let me combine these two objections to certain wines because while they seem to say the same thing, they do not. 
 
As for rosé, many people have had the unfortunate experience to taste a completely devoid of character but plenty sweet wine that was pink. Some of us started our wine journey with those wines. They were simply horrible even back when we knew nothing about wine, except for one thing: we did not like pink wine. 
 
Rosé wines today are not the same wines as those from way back in our youth. Today’s rosé is well-made from top-quality grapes and the result is about as far away from those sweet pink wines as Drew Brees is from JaMarcus Russell. Sorry, we are in football training camp season and I’m ready for our Saints to take it to the NFL. 
 
Now, let me bring in Rieslings, which I have seen several people turn down because “I don’t like sweet German wines.” Grow up. 
 
Rieslings are not just phenomenal wines, with most of them being not-sweet, but they are perfect for accompanying Asain cuisine and other spicy cuisines. Get it? Rieslings are incredibly suited for Creole and Cajun cuisines. 
 
If you are concerned about the wines being too sweet, most of the Rieslings coming out of New York state, among other places, have a gauge on the back label. There is a designation along that gauge that tells you where this particular wine falls on a sweet scale. So if you are not enamored with pretty wines that have a sweet character, check out the gauge and find a Riesling that is “bone-dry,” which many of you think is the opposite of sweet. It’s not but that’s a topic for another day. 
 
Americans Don’t Drink Wines From Europe Any More
 
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. 
 
As we speak here, America is becoming the largest market for European wines on the planet. Thanks to a rise in the exports and appreciation of wines from Spain and Italy, we Americans are doing quite a bit to prop up European wine consumption at a time when consumption in Europe is declining on that continent. 
 
Importantly, wine lists in New Orleans restaurants are quite impressive and laden with European wine offerings. The real point is that wines from the Old World are not the same as wines from the New World. They both have something to recommend them and they both are incredibly interesting, but each in their own way.
 
America has rightfully taken her place among the best wine producing nations on earth. And Europe still holds the sacred high ground with history and expression. 
 
You don’t have to pit one place against another. You can have it all. 
 

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Happy Hour

All there is to sip and savor in New Orleans

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In New Orleans, when the subject is wine and spirits, it is very difficult to leave Tim McNally out of the discussion. He is considered one of the “go-to” resources in the Crescent City for counsel and information about adult beverages and their place in the fabric of life in this great city.

Tim is the Wine and Spirits Editor, columnist and feature writer for New Orleans Magazine; the Wine and Spirits Editor and Happy Hour blogger for myneworleans.com; the Executive Editor and monthly features writer for Gulf Coast Wine + Dine Online; creator and editor of his own website, winetalknola.com; all in addition to his weekly hosting duties on "The Wine Show," a radio program entering its second decade of broadcasting in New Orleans. "The Wine Show with Tim McNally," is on the air at WGSO – 990AM, every Friday at 5 p.m.

Over the years, Tim has proved to be a master interviewer, putting his guests at ease, and covering tactile and technical information so that even a novice can understand difficult agricultural and production concepts. Tim speaks with winemakers, wine and spirit ambassadors, distillers, authors, people who stage events and festivals, and takes questions from listeners and readers, all seamlessly blended together in a program that is unique in America.

Tim’s love of wine came about many years ago from his wife-to-be, Brenda Maitland, a noted journalist in her own right, and together they have traveled to the major wine producing areas in the US and Europe, seeking first-hand information about beverages that give us all so much pleasure.

The couple was instrumental in the founding of the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, a major, well-regarded festival of its type both nationally and internationally. Tim and Brenda both continue to be involved with the planning and staging of this multi-venue, five-day event now more than 20 years old.

Tim is also considered one of the foremost professional wine judges in the US, being invited to judge more than 11 wine competitions each year, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (the largest competition of American wines in the world, with more than 6,000 entries), the Riverside, CA International Wine Competition, San Francisco International Wine Competition, Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, Indiana International Wine Competition, Sandestin, FL Wine Festival Competition, U.S. National Wine Competition, and the National Wine Competition of Portugal.

Tim is a guest lecturer to many local wine and dine organizations, and speaks each year to the senior class in the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala.

Staying abreast of the news of the wine and spirits world is a passion for Tim, and he is committed to sharing what he knows with his listeners and readers. “Doing something I love, with products that I truly enjoy, created by interesting people, coupling the experience with culinary excellence, and doing it all in the greatest city in America,” are the words Tim lives by.

You can reach Tim by email at timideas@bellsouth.net.

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