Published: 03/07/2011 at Richard Gonzalez
Here is a 'who said it' quiz. "Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance."
Benjamin Franklin takes the credit for sharing this piece of wisdom - hats off to the man on the one hundred dollar bill.
From a cooking agent to a beverage that is best enjoyed with everything that isn't hurried, wine has always stood the test of time. Yes, it is just a bunch of crushed grapes, but having said that, it does have the ability to transcend the drinker to a region of the world that would otherwise not be explored.
No way can I be viewed as an 'expert' of wine. I drink what I like, and that is probably the best lesson that a sommelier once told me. Don't worry about white wines with this and red wines with that, if you like it...drink it - plain and simple.
Although my palette isn't refined enough to disassociate the flavors of apricot and berries, it can, for the most part, tell from what part of the world the wine I’m enjoying comes from. Chilean wines have a distinct taste that can not be found anywhere else in the world; same is true from wines that hail from Australia. That is why wines have a characteristic all their own. Even wines that are from the same region, but from different wineries have their own uniqueness. That’s pretty special when the same kind of grape, tastes different because of how they are grown.
Wines also vary in price. You don't have to have a lot of 'Benjamin’s' to enjoy a high quality wine. When I started off on my journey of wine tasting, I bought wines using two classifications: A.) How much money I had in my pocket at the time of purchasing and B.) What does the label look like? You have heard that with food, as well as wine, you first taste it with your eyes, right?
Having graduated to a more 'sophisticated' way of purchasing or ordering my wine, I choose a part of the world where I have found I like their wines, and just stick with that. Of course, I do like to experiment, but a sure way to ordering a wine that you have a 95% chance of enjoying is to just use the KISS method.
For my white wines, I tend to enjoy wines from New Zealand and Australia. My favorite bottle of wine is Penfolds - although there are countless others. The taste has a lot going on, with their berries and apricots, but like I previous stated, I really can't pick that up. It’s a refreshing Chardonnay or Cabernet Blanche that I haven't been able to find from any other bottle that comes from any other part of the world. Cooking with it, which is more of a passion of mine then just a hobby, makes chicken, fish and just about everything else you add to it, taste much better.
For red wines it’s a wide open spectrum. Argentina, Chile and (surprising, at least to me) South Africa has some of the best Pinot Noirs that I have had. France and Italy (for more obvious reasons that might become apparent to the aficionados of wine lovers out there) have also made me fall in love with this sort of wine. For Cabernet Sauvignon, I stay close to home. Oregon has risen to the top of my list. A friend of mine sent me a bottle of a wine called Ponzi from this region of Oregon that sadly I haven't been able to find anywhere other then a website that I have fallen in love with. Use with food to create some magical red sauces that will accompany any steak meal.
The list may seem endless when you enter a wine store looking for that 'perfect' bottle. But if you 'keep it simple you really can't loose. Yes, the rule of thumb is to match white meats (fish) with white wine and red meat with red, but I honestly think that is getting debunked every time someone says, "Hey, why can't I enjoy this salmon with a bottle of Shiraz?"