We know what we like. Basically, we are all born with a penchant for stuff we like and a disdain for stuff we don’t. Those in-bred preferences pretty much stay with us all of our breathing days.
There are changes along the way, but they are mostly minor. From our early days, we crave pickles or sweets; go batty for soft drinks or sports drinks; indulge in guilty tactile pleasures or avoid foods that cause us to pucker.
Most of the time, we stay pretty middle of the road, although many of us have a love of licorice which is not universally shared, or we push certain vegetables all over our plate hoping to fool whichever adult has the dubious duty to make certain we finish everything served for dinner, especially the vegetables.
Yet at some point during our stretch of adulthood, we shut down the whole curious pursuit and settle on one thing within each food category. Just when we reach the age and maturity to appreciate and understand many flavors, aromas, textures and experiences, we settle.
We also tend to narrow choices. We gravitate to favorites and decide that items not given favored status are not worthy of further consideration.
In shutting down our breadth of choices, we miss many items that are worthy of our attention.
Here are suggestions for a few off-the-usual-track wines that may have been overlooked, or just rejected without a fair trial:
Cabernet Franc – NBT, the Next Big Thing. Pinot noir has peaked, and rosés are following the path of merlot in the early part of this century: too many are being produced and many are not of good standards. Cabernet franc is a bit fickle, but the wines from Chinon in the Loire Valley of France are quite good.
Lighter than cabernet sauvignon, one of its parents preceding the 18th century. The other parent is Carmenere. Cabernet franc has always been primarily a blending grape but producers all over the East and West Coasts of America have been able to harvest fruit which is really enjoyable on its own. A very widely planted grape around the world, which may indicate that as demand from consumers rise, the quality of the wines could suffer.
Discover this wonderful and approachable wine now.
Grenache – Another widely planted grape, but more associated with blends in the Rhone region. Actually, a Spanish grape, Garnacha, which expresses itself more boldly when it is from the sunny Iberian Peninsula. Softer in the Rhone region of France.
This is the prime grape in the blends of Chateauneuf du Pape where it presents a spicy, dark red aspect. Wonderful with stewed meats and just about the perfect match for jambalaya and red beans.
Albariño – The magical white wine of northwestern Spain. In Portugal it is known as alvarinho. Same thing.
The generous botanical aspects of the grape are stone-fruit (peaches and apricots), along with high-acid characteristics. Excellent chilled on a summer’s afternoon.
Vinho Verde – The one designation on this list that refers to an area rather than a grape. Home base is in the far north of Portugal. When traveling this region, your cell phone signal is more likely to come from Spain rather than the country you are in, Portugal. Vinho verde means “fresh wine” since these wines are usually not aged at all, and most have a little quite attractive spritz attributable to unresolved sugars.
Again, for us, vinho verdes are the perfect wines on a hot summer’s afternoon. Light, often less than 12% alcohol, and made from a combination of grapes with literally unpronounceable names for English speakers not familiar with the Portuguese language. Usually less than $11 at retail. I cannot imagine why this wine is not the preferred and official wine of a New Orleans summer.
Read Happy Hour here on www.myneworleans.com on Wednesdays, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed, as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature about cocktails every month in New Orleans Magazine.