In a city like ours, celebrating 300 years of existence, “new” does not hold the allure for us like it does to citizens of, say, Dallas or Houston or Los Angeles. We tend to be more deliberate and not-so-quick on the draw than those go-go outposts.
And yet, we are not opposed to the latest craze. We just need a good reason to kick something that works to the curb.
That philosophy of life is especially evidenced in what we eat and drink. Darn few places out there devote one day every week to a tasty dish of delightfully simple preparations, like the marriage of Monday and red beans. Or whose population respects and demands that a cocktail first concocted in the mid-1800’s be done properly. like the Sazerac.
While we have our standards, here are a few items, recently taking a place in the culinary pantheon, that may be of interest.
This ancient Japanese white grape, actually a hybrid thought to have traveled from China, maybe Europe, in the 1100’s, has finally begun the long journey to the US.
The wine resembles Muscadet, fine acid component and not overly sweet The Japanese people enjoy this beverage with their seafood of which there are endless variations and varieties. The name of the grape is the former name of the Yamanashi Prefecture, now the point of origin for the wines of this grape, at the base of Mount Fuji.
There are more than 80 wineries in Yamanashi, accounting for more than 40 percent of Japan’s total wine output. Yamanashi Prefecture makes up 95 percent of the country’s Koshu harvest. The grapes themselves are the prettiest shade of pink, which go along nicely with the color of cherry blossoms.
Koshu wines are well-structured, with peach/melon characteristics on the palate and the nose. Very clean. Low in alcohol, around 11 percent.
English Sparkling Wines
It was not so long ago that the idea of wines from Great Britain was nonsensical. Way too cold and the forbidding rocky or soggy soils were fine mostly for underbrush or peat bogs. Not to mention some haunting stories from Doyle, Dickens and Brontë.
Then the Gulf Stream become stronger and shifted a bit more towards the land and at that point in time, companies of means thought there might be possibilities to make some decent sparkling wines.
The main catalyst that gave them such a radical idea is the fact that the soils of Sussex, on the southeastern corner of England, are limestone. These are the same veins that created the White Cliffs of Dover, and the legendary chalky underpinnings of Champagne, France, less than 200 miles to the east.
The English sparkling wines are made from the same grape varietals as those of Champagne: pinot noir, chardonnay, and a smattering of pinot meuniere.
The technique used to make sparkling wine in England is the same used in Champagne. Second fermentation takes place in the bottle and one of the final steps in production, the dosage, defines the sugar level of the wine.
To be sure, English sparkling wines are not cheap, often rivaling in price their Champagne counterparts. But it is fun to ponder the better points of global warming while enjoying a quality wine with bubbles from England.
Read Happy Hour here on 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 in New Orleans, every month in New Orleans Magazine.