It’s been said we learn a lot from our kids. And sometimes we learn from the books we bought specifically to teach THEM something. You see, I have a young daughter who, despite our best efforts raise a woman prepared for today’s world, wants nothing to do with anything that isn’t pink and glittery.
So we stumbled upon (yes, I know my intros are long, but this is the set up for my point about wine – we’ll get there in a second!) a book we thought would help her understand the importance of balance, of diversity in choice – Priscilla And The Pink Planet, by Jocelyn Hobbie.
In a nutshell, Priscilla is an inquisitive little girl who lives on a planet where pink is the only color allowed, by decree of the Queen. But independent-minded Priscilla dreams of seeing other colors and blazes her own trail to do so.
By the end of the story, she’s used some very adult psychology at a tea with the Queen to convince her that, while pink is CLEARLY the best color, hiding the other colors might not be in its best interest because "…it’s hard to tell that pink is the best without seeing all the rest. If all the colors were out for the world to see, pink would look even pinker, don’t you agree?". And of course, once the other colors were out of the proverbial bag, the Pink Planet became a more interesting place.
The Wine Angle (Finally)
I was talking with one of our club members recently, who was complaining about receiving a white wine in her club shipment. "I only drink red", she haughtily explained, then finished with "Every sophisticated wine drinker knows that white wines are born hoping to grow up to be red."
And there I was. Talking with the Queen of Red.
She’s not alone. The ranks of the Red-only Royalty are so burgeoning that one concludes membership is not particularly exclusive. In fact, admittance is easy – members must simply believe that red wine is the only wine worth drinking (even if it’s free). The more extreme sect believes Cabernet to be the only wine worthy of their esteemed gullet.
I understand. As I’ll write in my next post, I followed the Cabernet/Red wine infatuation path for years. But then I tried red wines in Europe. And I tried sparkling wines, in Europe. And I tried WHITE wines and, yes, even PINK wines, in Europe. And I loved them all. And then I came back and tried the widest variety of Domestic wines I could find.
At first, I found that these new flavors made me love red wine all the more. Then, over time, something funny happened. I discovered that a big red wine over-powered everything I ate with it, while the floral, acidic white wines, the blush wines, and the softer reds (especially pinot!) tasted BETTER with food, and the food tasted better with them. I was hooked.
And yes, I still love red wines, just not all the time.
The Wine Deal
And so, for those interested in sampling a broader spectrum of wines, we present the following recommendations:
For a great wine that complements our lighter International diets, Marsanne is all too often overlooked. Here we feature one from Buttonwood Farms in Santa Barbara County – where growing conditions strongly favor the Rhone varietals. And for a full-bodied style of Sauvignon Blanc, we can recommend the anti-Kiwi alternative from Fiddlehead Cellars, now on sale for $27 – an age-worthy white wine that converts many "Red Royalty".
Blush wines aren’t just for picnics anymore! Try the one from Kalyra, made from Cabernet Franc – the predominant grape used in the delicious Loire Valley wines. We have a flock of pink wines about to be released, and we’ll announce them here or through our email alerts (sign up here).
One of the more interesting wines I’ve seen in a while is a food-friendly wine, again from Buttonwood Farms, that is also from the Cabernet Franc grape. Dubbed "The Infant", the juice was left on the grape skins longer than one would for a pink wine, but not as long as one would for a full-bodied red. A great spring wine.
As you might expect from us, no description of the "rainbow of wines" would be complete without pinot noir. But there were so many to choose from in our store that I provide here a link to the entire category for perusal by interested parties. And yes, the category also includes Chardonnays – a vestige of my Burgundian classification habits.
As we progress up the scale of bigness, I hesitated to place Syrah before Bordeaux varietals, because so many of them are being made in bigger and brawnier styles. So I’ve decided to feature one here that hails from high-altitude, Central Coast vineyards that produce a softer, leaner style well suited to today’s foods. It’s from rising-star winemaker David Corey, and is well worth checking out now, before the wines become so popular nobody can buy them anymore.
OK, if being king means you’re the biggest, I guess Cabernet is still the king of reds. And while we offer some excellent Bordeaux Varietals, our featured Big Red wine is the Nebbiolo from Benjamin Silver – another winemaker on the rise. His Nebbiolo is very true to type, grown in conditions similar to those of the great wines of Northern Italy – Barolo and Barbaresco.