This time of winter can be discouraging with all the cold temps, snow, and knowing spring is a long way off. We are at the stage of winter tolerance where our bodies have acclimated to the cold by now, but our attitude needs a little adjusting. While poets fantasize about winter being the time to dream, we, being the more practical type, want something tangible to put our hands on. I offer some delightful wines that lift spirits with each sip; frizzante wines.
One of the many factors that separate my generation from the millennials is my love for good books — the kind you can hold in your hand, turn pages in and mark up as desired. There is absolutely no shortage of good books on the science and art of wine growing and making — more than one could read in a lifetime. Some are very specific, like "Terroir and Other Myths of Wine Growing " by Mark A. Matthews, or broad in scope like "WineWise — Your Complete Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Enjoying Wine"by Kolpan, Smith, & Weiss.
Where did religion and wine start? Likely with the ancient Egyptians. Then it moved on to the Greeks who made Dionysus god of the grape harvest and wine-making, to the Romans, who built upon Greek knowledge, expanding viniculture across their conquered and occupied world. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, viniculture was preserved by priests of the Catholic Church to use in their Sacramental services. Then the "little Ice Age" (1500 -1850) hit the world and vastly limited the growing of all agricultural crops, including wine grapes.
My wife and I took a Bordeaux wine country Viking River cruise two years ago, during the Thanksgiving period and into the month of December. The weather was nippy, with occasional light rain. Because the cruise was in Bordeaux and specifically targeted for winery visitations and the enjoyment of literally endless wines to drink, we had more to sample than we can accurately recall — with one exception: the warm fruity wines they gave us on our return from touring. Every one of those hit the spot.
More than 12 years ago, anything resembling a grape wine industry was a dream close to fantasy. Yet today, that dream is shaping up to becoming a thriving reality, thanks to the efforts and vision of some very focused entrepreneurs, wine lovers and researchers.
Riesling wines are often known as the "grape of Germany" because this wonderful varietal is grown in the cool regions of Mosel and Rheingau of Germany where a literal boom in the planting of the vine was established in the 19th century. Of course, I drink many wine varietals and blends, most of which are totally enjoyable, calling my taste buds back to purchase more of the same. But, without a doubt, like the beautiful red hair that adorns my wife's head, riesling keeps my attention focused because of the many qualitative attributes it has.
Unless you are a militant dieter, we are all guilty of giving in to last week's bounty of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, etc., as well as the wonderful wines that accompanied every morsel we consumed. Now that the belt is a little tighter, and the vows to cut back between now and the end of the year fall on unbelieving ears, there is 'one small step' mankind can take in the right direction to help alleviate the remorse from over-consumption.
The tsunami of food offerings (aka 'temptations') facing us between now and the end of the year is beyond comprehension. When guests are coming for an evening of food and wine celebrations, what is appropriate to offer? Guests arriving at this chilly time of year might welcome a Rob Roy drink to snuff out the cold. Speaking from direct experience, it works!
Why is it no matter where the genetic tree traces our ancestry to, we love Italian food and wine so much? I believe it is because the two evolved together, and the enjoyment of one complements the taste of the other.
Writing about wine at this time of year is built around what would pair well with a typical — if there is such a thing — Thanksgiving dinner celebration. Keeping in mind this meal is celebrated around turkey, sweet potatoes and cranberries, the wines over the next two weeks will be suggestions based on my tasting experiences, and what food/wine experts contend will pair well with just about anything that shows up on the holiday table. The first wine, from Italy — in a beautiful bottle — Terre de la Custodia Montefalco Rosso DOC ($19-$25) is an ingenious combination of 60 percent sangiovese, 15 percent sagrantino and 25 percent montepulciano grapes. Upon pouring it into the glass, I was immediately struck by the deep ruby-red clear color filling the glass.