A recent wine-tasting get-together in Fargo involved all sparkling wines, three of which I was privileged to include in the participation. My contributions to the event included Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. Spumante Brut (Italy, suggested retail price $15), Vilarnau Brut Reserva D.O. Cava (Spain, SRP $20) and Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve (France, SRP $60). At a gathering like this involving several people of varying wine-tasting sophistication, comments on the wines ran the entire gamut: fantastic or mediocre, definitely a food-friendly wine — there was plenty of food on hand — or one that would definitely become a part of their celebratory routine.
Life for professional football players after retirement does exist for some. According to a July Sports Illustrated article, many NFL players have traded their playbooks to be guided through the fermentation process and discovered more relaxing and less injurious, but equally demanding, lives among the grapes. Such a shift in action has worked well for Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer, former quarterbacks in the NFL. Longtime friends from predraft days, they vacationed together in Napa Valley with their wives and started exchanging bottles of wine.
A little Rodney Dangerfield to start off: "When I played in the sandbox, the cat kept covering me up ..." Dangerfield has many more quips too risqué for this column, but let me ask, from the following list, which state would you say gets "no respect" for its wines? North Dakota, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota or New Jersey? None of the first four listed, simply because they get respect for the challenges they have to overcome to get a toehold in the commercial wine industry. That leaves New Jersey as the state that typically no one thinks of when it comes to considering purchasing wine.
I recently hosted a chardonnay tasting party with tasters who mostly preferred red wines. Overall, we found them quite enjoyable. The three wines we tasted were from different parts of the globe: Italy, South Africa and Sonoma, Calif. Each one was distinct in aroma, mouthfeel and aftertaste. After "conditioning" the taste buds with a little Champagne, we started with the Pomino Benefizio Riserva, 2012 vintage, from Italy's Tuscany region. In 1878, Pomino was awarded the Gold Medal at the Paris Exposition for high quality.
With the month of September being the major month of harvest for most agricultural crops in North America, including wine grapes, the combination of wine and food are a natural match. While culinary and wine experts have published many good books and articles about which wine goes with which food, the truth for me is, if you enjoy both the dish you are eating and the wine you are drinking, the task is a non-issue.
I enjoy "browsing" wine shops — a weakness of mine — to see what is available that I know little about. I have to admit that attractive and unique wine bottles catch my eye. If it is a wine varietal I am familiar with, and the price isn't too shocking, I'll make the purchase. If it turns out to be something I really like, I will consider making a repurchase.
What is a Beaujolais wine? A good question, was my response. A wine coming from somewhere in the Burgundy region of France, was my answer. Fortunately, my response satisfied the inquiry, and the discussion went no further. Fearing another such question requesting more details, I quickly dove into my references to see what more I could learn.
Regular readers of my wine column know that I have a modest wine cellar with a capacity of 144 bottles. The wine in that cellar represents current and future pleasure experiences, but not because I'll attempt to drink it all for myself. I, of course, share the wine with my wife at dinner and with friends during meals or wine tastings. The nicely convenient 750-milliliter bottle is one that invites multiple consumers to enjoy its contents, view the bottle and either discuss the wine being consumed or work on debating the world's problems.
After seeing hectares and acres of wine vineyards producing tons of grapes per unit, I've often wondered how small one could go and still be considered to have a wine-producing vineyard? That question has apparently been addressed in some parts of the wine-growing world that really are not all that surprising: Vienna, Paris and San Francisco.
Outdoor barbeques are still going strong with continued favorable weather predicted for the next several weeks. While summer grilling and beer go pretty much hand in hand, don't overlook some very tasty wines to accompany the enjoyment of food off the grill. Earlier this summer, I attended an event hosted by Sommelier Jean Taylor and Cam Knudson, where an array of meats and salads were served along with some unbelievably great tasting wines from Argentina, New Zealand, France and Portugal.