Suburban Wino 2: The Wordpress Experiment

Wine Blogging Wednesday #67: Seeing Red for the First Time | March 24, 2010

Like General MacArthur returning to the Pacific, Julius Caesar’s triumphant arrival back in Rome, or the elusive reappearance of the McRib, I’m happy to get back into writing for “Wine Blogging Wednesday”. The concept was started over 5 years ago by New York wine authority Lenn Thompson, and is- this month- being hosted by wine-blogging supernova Joe Roberts. As both gentlemen are Pittsburgh Steelers fans, and Ben Roethlisberger prefers to engage in shenanigans in my home state of Georgia, I feel a certain connection here. Maybe Lenn, Joe, Ben and I will get together for a McRib sometime. I hear the McDonald’s in Milledgeville is pretty good.

Okay, while I can’t apologize for their quarterback, I do tip my hat to the guys for continuing a great tradition. WBW centers around a theme picked by the month’s host, and it’s a terrific way to bring the wine blogging community together to “compare notes”. Think of Wine Blogging Wednesday as a virtual round of McRibs, but replace wine writing for the meat-type substance of unknown providence slathered in sauces and toppings to mask the unspeakable horror.
Fortunately, the theme this month is devoid of horror. “Seeing red” is all about finding the red wine you’d utilize to welcome a white-wine drinker to the dark side. As tinted vino often has a flavor profile much different to the typical “white wine drinker’s” drug of choice (likely being California Chardonnay), this can be a tough sell. The heavier flavors, often lower acidity & higher alcohol, and- what I think is the biggest aversion- a prevalence of tannins in many red wines spit in the eye of the butter, tropical fruits, occasional crispness, and moderate alcohol of your standard-issue Chardonnay (though many from California and Australia can be quite high in booze levels). As I am an unbiased lover of all wines (or pretty much anything that can be consumed and put in my gullet), I needed a test subject:
Meet Ashley, friendly neighbor and wine consumer (and, oddly enough, Pittsburgh Steelers fan). While I have seen her knock down an occasional red, Ashley’s been a pretty loyal patron of a particular brand of California Chardonnay. And, being a trooper, she even “volunteered” to have a glass of her favorite go-to in the name of scientific research. Furthermore, I tip my hat to Ashley’s intrepid spirit, sacrifice, and teamwork when her arm was firmly twisted into drinking free wine. You tops, kiddo!
Now, what strategy would I employ in willing this mild-mannered test subject towards seeing red? In my analysis, I came up with two possible strategies:
1) Find a wine with very similar attributes to a Chardonnay (or other popular white wine)
2) Go for the “knocking off of the socks”, if you will, by finding a red wine that would be nothing like the incumbent product, impressing an inevitable “what have I been missing?!” reaction.
Well, I caved. The second option seemed so cavalier, but I didn’t think I could pull it off. That being said, I did go for perhaps an original angle (at least on my first try):
Grateful Palates 2008 “Bitch” Grenache, South Australia:
Okay, perhaps I was going for sassy marketing to soften the blow of consuming red wine. However, I thought this one might fit the bill. Here’s my half-witted reasoning:
1) Grenache is a grape that is medium-bodied, generally lower in tannin, and high in strawberry flavors.
2) Australian wines- since they are so reliant on export- need to be marketable. For this reason, many are more fruit-forward and low in tannin.
The verdict: Ashley didn’t like it as much as white wine, wouldn’t pay the $12 for it, but also wouldn’t be upset if it was served to her. When told she could pour it out to try the second wine, she said, “c’mon. It’s not THAT bad.” Regardless, I think I failed with this one. Frankly, either I didn’t like it at all or the bottle was bad. It had that rubber ball smell I’ve been getting lately in many wines, suggesting there many have been an issue with sulfuric compounds in the wine.

2007 Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages:
My first instinct was to go with Beaujolais, but I didn’t think it’d be very original, so I got myself in that “bitch” of a situation above. Why Beaujolais? Well, this French wine is made from the Gamay grape, often employing a fermentation technique known as “carbonic maceration” (I won’t get into the science…link if you’d like), which essentially preserves fresh fruit flavors and keeps tannins low. These wines also do well with a bit of a chill on them, have nice acidity, and make perfect picnic wines (sorta sounds like a white wine, huh?).
The verdict: my subject found this one to be “much better”, but then she “had to leave because her kid was getting tired and it was time for dinner” (a classic “I’m going to get a McRib but I’m too embarrassed to admit it” excuse). Luckily, one of our other companions said, “if you closed your eyes and tasted this, you could definitely mistake it for a white wine.” Boom. I’m chalking that up as full success.
I feel bad the “Bitch” didn’t work out, because I think lush Aussie Grenache would’ve been a more interesting victory. However, if you are a white wine-loyalist reading this post, I highly encourage you give some Beaujolais-Villages (or Beaujolais) a try. Put it in the fridge for 30 minutes, and enjoy it with whatever you’d usually have with your standard white, whether that be grilled chicken, flaky fish, or- of course- your weekly rib-flavored crap sandwich. Just please don’t be hesitant to try something new. You may never know what you’re missing.
And to that, I’ll bring back the toast (with a new Russian one I learned): Cheers, Sláinte, L’Chaim, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, Kampai, Nostrovia, and Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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