El Raton’s Wine Demandments™
It’s hard to just have a simple philosophy about wine, but I am going to take a crack at it. First, I am originally from Delaware, so I don’t think I am even allowed to be pretentious about anything – let alone wine. There is certainly enough stuffiness and one-minded thinking in wine anyway, without me adding to it.
My philosophy is clearly around value – getting the most for your money – or, if at a restaurant, getting the least marked up wine on the list. I am also all about the sense of place – or terroir of a wine. Yes, Yes, I know – a WAAAAAAAY overused word, and there are certainly enough people out there dumping on the Robert Parker’s of the world without me jumping in. But I say, drink what you like – as long as it was made well and tastes like the place it comes from – it does not matter how cheap or expensive it was. If you can find a cheap, well made wine that you like – DRINK IT!!
BUT – DO NOT buy a wine solely based upon someone else’s palate. Anyone who does that, or buys because of a score, is a LOSER – plain and simple.
Anyway, I do have a bit of a personal mantra. I call it my Wine Demandments – or, the wine philosophy that I try to espouse to all my friends and colleagues (or anyone who will listen for that matter). I will make little tweaks to this here and there, but this is the essence:
- Drink more sparkling wine – and not just on special occasions: I know, I am also the “Eat Turkey other than on Thanksgiving” guy too, but really, especially in this weather, doesn’t a sparkler sound good? There are great ones out there in the $10+/- range (Spanish Cava, Italian Prosecco). And, if you are ever in a pinch, a nice sparkling wine or Champagne is a great gift – who does not smile when handed a bottle of bubbly?
- More men drinking White wine: Save for some of my male wine industry friends or my male friends who happen to be gay – I don’t know many men who say, “I love white wine.” To me, white wines pair better with foods than red, and they will pair with some foods you could absolutely not even attempt with reds (artichokes, brie & most goat cheeses, etc.). Plus, you get a better price/quality ratio on whites – I find I can spend 30%+ less than on red wine for a comparable white.
- Drink more Rose’ wine: Ok, easy to say, as Rose’ wine has never been hotter – but I DO NOT MEAN WHITE ZINFANDEL! Proper Rose’ has nothing to do with that stuff – a good Rose’ will be bone dry, and depending on where its from, it will vary in fruitiness (Provence Rose will be more subtle and pale pink, Italian and Spanish will be more red in tone). Also, while Rose’ is heavily marketed in summer, it is perfect all year round.
- Stretch your Comfort Zone: Every wonder why, when you go to a restaurant and order wine off the list that the prices on the Cali Cabernet Sauvignons & Chardonnays (and now Pinot Noir) are so high? It is by design – restaurants know consumer tendency – to go with the familiar (why do you think chain restaurants are so popular?). They mark up the usual suspects more than other wines, because they know they can. The best values are out there for you if you are willing to stretch your comfort zone…Like Cabernet? Try a Malbec from Argentina or from the Cahors region in France – or a Grenache from Spain, Australia, or the Rhone in France. Like Chardonnay? Try a Greco di Tufo or a Gavi from Italy or a Marsanne/Roussanne from the Rhone in France (or from USA – Tablas Creek makes a good one). Like Pinot Noir? Try a Chinon or Bourgueil (both Cabernet Franc) from Loire Valley in France or a Barbera D’asti or Lagrein from Italy. All of those will be 20-30% less in comparative value at a restaurant (for example, a California Pinot Noir and a French Chinon may both be $65 on a wine list – but the Pinot Noir is probably $20-$22 retail, while the Chinon is probably $35+ retail) – so you are getting a better wine for the price
- Drink More Sherry: Sherry is not your grandmothers beverage – and it has nothing to do with Harvey’s Bristol Cream! It still has a long way to go in this country from a perception perspective – but there is not a more versatile or well made wine for the price anywhere! Sherry can either be the driest wine there is (Fino, Manzanilla) or one of the sweetest (Pedro Ximenez, Oloroso Dulce). Finos are great as aperitifs with nuts or cured meats, PX is great alone (or over vanilla ice cream).
- Help Others with #’s 1-5