Have No Fear: Refill Here
So you are headed home after another long day at work. While you traverse the metro stations and sit in traffic your stomach begins to grumble and your thoughts turn towards food and dinner. What will you have tonight, will you cook or pick up take out? Suddenly you panic. An icy fear grips you heart and you mind races, much, much faster than the Orange Line or the run of traffic on 66. Two questions blink on and off in your mind like bright neon late at night….
“Do I have wine at home?” and “Will it go with my meal?”
If you stopped by OWSB this past week the answer to the first one of these questions is likely yes. However, the second remains dubious at best. That however can be fixed, just as you can remedy the pain and horror of an empty wine rack at home. A terrifying thought I know. *shivers*
Let’s start with the first problem: So your wine rack is empty. (I am ok shivering at the thought) Sure you can fill up pretty easily, just grab your usual bottles and stuff them into the rack… wait a minute. You don’t want to eat the same food for each meal of the week. I mean it is highly unlikely that you are going to do this; even if you were eating at the same restaurant every day for every meal it is doubtful that you would eat the same food for each meal. And you briefly recall reading in last week’s blog post something about drinking different wines… something about wine not being a beverage like Diet Coke or Milk… yeah that’s what it was. Well how do you go about getting out of this rut?
Well you start by thinking about wine as food and buy accordingly. That’s what it is, food. Simply put when you make your grocery list for the week take a moment and think on what wines you want to with that meal, after all wine and food are meant to go together. That’s how I plan my week’s meals. If this seems like too much work or you want that little bit of extra help, come by the shop and we will gladly help you out. Be advised however, that one of the first questions I am going to ask is what meals you have planned so I can pair wine accordingly.
Often times the above approach is best as it allows you to avoid what happens to me on occasion, running out, before dinner is done, to grab a wine that goes with the meal in question. Better yet, is buying multiple wines ahead of time that are varied in style so that you have some options at home and are not “out of stock” in the auld wine rack. I attempt this but at times I too slip up. What follows are a few ideas for wine styles to have readily about your domicile, thus heading off those two questions in flashing neon.
Bubbles: Always keep a bottle of bubbly on hand. Cava or Prosecco are great for this as they are cheaper than Champagne and just as food friendly. Sparkling wine is one of the most versatile wine styles for food paring. It also makes a great option for celebrating life’s milestones or even just because you survived another day of meetings. If nothing else pop the cork off your bubbly for my favorite reason, I have fried chicken on the table. Pure Bliss. Adami Prosecco or Finca Valdoserra Cava are excellent options.
Crisp Whites: Having at least one bottle of crisp, dry, white wine in your rack and/or fridge. You can go the Sauvignon Blanc route or be a bit more adventurous in your choice and buy some Gavi di Gavi from Italy, a cheap French Picpoul or one of my favorites (which is often over looked) Muscadet. Serve these wines chilled and with any seafood, fish, shrimp scampi, or grilled mussels (a favorite in my home). These wines often over deliver on value and are laughably affordable, do not forget them. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Picpouls are often value priced at $10-20.
NCW (Non-Chardonnay Whites): The world is full of non-Chardonnay white wine that is full of body and character. Floral Viognier, Crisp Chenin Blanc, Spanish Alberino or Godello, Grenache Blanc, even dry Riesling from France or the Finger Lakes. Get to know these wines. Keep something of this sort on hand for when you are in the mood for something a bit heavier and not as crisp as the previously mentioned wines but are just as good for food. Use them for heavier dishes like salmon, roasted chicken, and hearty cheeses. Envidia Cochina Albarino or Dom. Philippe Plantevin CDR Blanc are brilliant.
Rose: Rose is not just for spring and summer. Rose is for year round. Great for light salads, nice days, rainy days, and more food than you can shake a stick at. Look for Rose from Provence, Spain, and California, always a good value. Dom. d’Eole and Clua Rosado are staples at OWSB.
Vibrant Italian Reds: Keep some Dolcetto d’Alba, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, or a Mount Etna Rosso stocked at all times. These wines are prefect for an impromptu pasta night, late night pizza, and a quick snack of cheese, salami, and olives. You will never want to be out of these. Sori’ Paitin Dolcetto and La Valentina Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, know them, love them.
Fruit Forward and Full Reds: Zinfandel, Syrah/Shiraz, Grenache, Cote-du-Rhone, Big Red Blends. These are your summer bbq workhorses. Serve with burgers, brats, chicken, supreme pizza, and to end the night. Full bodied and cheeky these wines are outstanding value and rich in fruit flavors. Daou’s Pessimist, Valraven Zin, and Joseph Puig Monsant are some to consider.
Bold Reds: Powerful Riojas, Ribero del Duero, Aglianico, and of course, Cabernet. These wines are known for their body and structure, layers of fruit and other rich notes of earth, spice, and tobacco. These are useful for that steak dinner, lamb chops off the grill, and all those grilled/roasted veggies. Never come home without one (in the rack). Terredora Dipaolo Aglianco, Ansenjo & Manso AM3, and Nucerro Rioja Reserva are quite sufficient.
All of these bottles mentioned are affordable, most you can find in and around the $20 mark, some less, some a bit more. Each of these styles are wines, in my humble opinion, you should have on hand in your house for daily drinking and weeknight meals. Finding wines like these is not difficult, so long as you know where to look. So pop into OWSB, ask some questions, see about finding the right wines for you and your empty rack, and stock up. Buy six to twelve bottles at a time, not of each wine but one or two bottles from each category. Drink them all or some of them and then pop in again, restock. Rinse and Repeat. Good wine shops will have a rotating stock of wines like these. Daily drinkers which allow you to explore new regions and styles while filling holes in your wine rack. Wines like these are great for having with a meal, in fact they should be a part of the meal. Remember, Wine is Food, so you need not save it for special occasions, after all, Tuesday night after surviving a full day of meetings and TPS reports is a special occasion. Drinking these wines is an exercise in learning and growing your palate and appreciation for wine.