What does a guy have to do to get people to drinking something besides red wine? Look, I don’t have anything against red wine, except:
• Most of it is indistinguishable;
• Most of it is boring (see first point);
• A lot of it is flawed;
• It doesn’t go with most food;
• Too much of it makes your teeth red and your mouth dry.
I had dinner with a couple of nice guys late last summer. They were wine guys, I guess. We were at a fancy Italian place, dining al fresco on one of our too-rare, sunny Seattle warm afternoons. One of the guys looking over the wine menu chimed in “Let’s get the Leonetti Cab!”
I almost tipped his chair over. We’ve just sat down, it’s warm out, we’re outside, we’re at a place with a great Italian wine list – and the first thing you want to order is an old-school Washington Cab????? Arrrghhh!
How about something cool, crisp, refreshing, food-friendly, Italian and White??!!! Ever hear of Vermentino? Verdicchio? Falanghina? Good lord, how about Moscato or Pinot Grigio? Anything but a big, overripe, chewy, palate-destroying red wine. On a hot day. Outside. With summer appetizers…
Ultimately, I didn’t tip him over. I just tore the menu out of his hands, and said firmly “that would be ridiculous”. I handed the menu to the waitress and told her to pick something Italian that was appropriate for the weather and their appetizer selections.
Look, I make – and drink – a lot of red wine. They have their place and can be amazing – especially if you branch out of the Cab/Merlot rut and try some lighter styled Rhone blends, Pinot Noir, and Cab Francs from the Northwest, or go even further afield and try a great fruit-driven—but complex—Italian red like Lagrein or Aglianico. But if you live in the Northwest and don’t start the majority of your meals with some white wine, you’ve yet to figure out the real beauty, complexity and wonder that wine is capable of.
Dry Riesling and king salmon.
Chardonnay and grilled fowl…
Gewurztraminer and spicy Asian cuisine, or barbecue ribs, or fish tacos. I’m telling you Gewurztraminer pairs with more foods than any other wine. Be Brave People! Try some!!! These pairings are outrageously good!!!
We are so fortunate in the Northwest to have great seafood, wonderful pan-Asian influences, lots of spicy foods and tons of farm-fresh produce – NONE OF WHICH GO WITH BIG BORING RED WINES!
Sorry for shouting at you, I really am. I guess I should just make my real point already: The incredible beauty and miracle of wine come from its infinite variation and complexity. Massive red wines are not really complex, they are just big. They can be plush and velvety, smoky or fruity. But these are just primary sensations – it’s often the case you can’t even tease the varietal out of the flavors. Such wines are “good” in the same sense that a Big Mac is “good” to some people. It’s rich, and you can sink your teeth into it. But complex? Distinctive? Not so much.
We should aspire to more. Bacchus gave us an incredible gift – there are in fact an amazing amount of “Great” wines – and many – maybe most – of them are white. For varietal expression, distinctiveness, food-friendliness, and pure refreshing quality, whites are where it’s at.
But hey, if you want to hang out on a summer patio and drink a big, thick Washington Cab, you go for it. If I’m around, just don’t lean back in your chair too far… (Kidding)
***If right now you’re sheepishly admitting to yourself that you have neglected Bacchus’s gift of great white wine, Larry suggests you begin your penance with his absolute favorite wine of the last few vintages – His 2010 “LEHM” Dry Gewurztraminer. For being brave, and making a three bottle commitment to breaking the dreaded “just red” habit, Larry will cover your shipping fee, anywhere in Washington. (Offer valid through Saturday 3/2)