Wine, Myths and Legends 2013
Leonard G. Logan, Jr.
Proprietor – Elizabeth’s Café & Winery
A Myth: “You should only drink white wine with fish”
The concept of drinking white wine with fish began as a food pairing with oily fish. The sharp acidity of some white wines were a perfect match with the fish instead of using lemon juice to cut the oil. Now, remember, there are three ingredients that tend to kill the taste of wine and result in a yuckie food pairing – these are vinegar, salt and lemon. Accordingly, don’t use lemon (if provided by a restaurant) with your fish if you are drinking a crisp white wine as an accompanying beverage. The wine alone will be the perfect pairing.
Innumerable dinners have discovered the joy of drinking red wine with fish. A seared tuna goes great with a red burgundy which is a Pinot Noir. There are no magic hard and fast rules – if you like it go with it.
MYTH: “Wine is only for special occasions.”
True and false – Wine is a wonderful accompaniment for special occasions. However, wine is merely a food and shouldn’t be limited to an occasional drinking at Special times. Wine consumption has taken on a certain snobbism in some places which is unfortunate. Folks, Wine is food – it is grape juice albeit a really good grape juice. It is made to be enjoyed with food in the company of lovers and friends. Accordingly, it may be consumed at most meals and enjoyed at gatherings. New studies are being released almost weekly touting the health benefits of reasonable wine consumption.
MYTH: “Champagne is only for special occasions.”
See above and fo Champagne, I defer to Madame Bollinger who responded when asked if she drank Champagne:
“I only drink Champagne when I’m happy, and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I’m thirsty.”
MYTH : “White wine should be served cold and red wines served at room temperature.”
We are often asked questions about serving temperature for our wines.
As a general rule in this country most restaurants and people serve white wines too cold and red wines too warm. Our perception of a wines taste is affected by the temperature. We taste by our tongue only sweet, sour, salt, bitter, and unami. The real taste of wine and food is obtained from vapors that reach the upper nasal cavity by inhaling or from vapors rising from behind the palate after swallowing.
A very cold wine will release few flavor vapors. At 60 to 65 degrees most wines are capable of releasing their full flavor components. As a wine is chilled it tastes crisper, fruitier and drier but looses fullness and complexity. Above 65 degrees ethyl alcohol is released and as a wine warms the alcohol dilutes the flavor components and numbs the nerves.
Most home refrigerators are chilled to approximately 38 degrees to keep milk icy cold. Only the poorest jug wines should be served directly from a home refrigerator. These wines have little complexity or acidity and cold makes them appear crisp and thirst quenching while at the same time hiding their flaws.
White Wine – An outstanding rich and complex Chardonnay will release best flavors between 50 and 60 degrees. For those used to wines served palate numbing directly from the refrigerator our wines may appear “warm.” However, each wine has an ideal temperature which enhances the complexity of the wine while at the same time maintaining a refreshing tartness. We attempt to serve wines at Elizabeth’s as close as possible to this ideal temperature. Rieslings, Chenin Blanc’s, and some other white wines are meant to be served colder. We serve these wines and our wines by the glass at a cooler temperature.
Champagne should be served cold at approximately 45 degrees.
Red Wines – From the earliest days Red Wines were served directly from the wine cellar at “Room Temperature”. However, “Room Temperature” in days of castles and manor houses with wine cellars is not remotely similar to our present day central heat pump homes and restaurants. The term “room temperature” means 60 to 65 degrees to most wine makers. Our storage system enables us to serve Red Wines at this recommended “room temperature”.
“Some wine hints”
A good wine is a wine you like – if you don’t like a wine it is not a good wine for your palate.
Life is too short to drink bad wine.
The Croaker Society has the right idea – don’t die with any good wines in your cellar.
More and more medical studies are showing the benefits of both red and white wine consumption.
Don’t cook with any wine you wouldn’t drink – even better drink good wine when you cook.
When in doubt about how to pair food with wine – add some of the wine you will be drinking to the sauce you are preparing – it will help the pairing.
Wines release endorphins, assist in digestion, have proven medical benefits, is a benefit to camaraderie, and does not generally defuse intelligent conversation. (Liquor inhibits our palate and correspondingly the enjoyment of food – and often reduces intelligent conversation to babble. However, an Irish Coffee or cognac sure is enjoyable after a meal.)
I learned that not all great wines need to be drunk in a restaurant or a formal setting: try a bottle of Duckhorn Merlot in the little gazebo behind the Williamsburg Inn overlooking a Duck Pond; chill a bottle of Château dÝquem in a babbling brook or stream and enjoy it on a misty day sitting on a rock pairing it with homemade coconut macaroons; enjoy a great bottle of Champagne in an outdoor hot tub chilling the Champagne in the snow; try a bottle of Bollinger Grand Anne for breakfast in a house with a mountain view; try a bottle of great Champagne with someone you love -anywhere with anything – be bold.
Try champagne with pizza.
Try Champagne with almost anything at any time.
Sneak a bottle of Champagne and 2 glasses into a movie theater in the off season and enjoy with popcorn and chocolate covered almonds.
Learn how to open Champagne without a “pop” – but rather a contented sigh. It is the proper method and also permits you to open a bottle in a movie theater.
Refuse to purchase any wine from a New York or California winery which calls their sparkling “Champagne”, their red “Burgundy” or offer a “Chablis.”(For those new readers – almost every nation signed an accord that prohibits other nations selling wine labeled with French villages or local names.)
Men – become aware that more and more some of the great wines in the world are being made by Women Winemakers.
Women – recognize that you generally have more taste buds and accordingly a better palate than most men. Select a wine you like because for you – you are right.
Do not accept mediocrity in people- food – wine – or yourself.
Wine education is one of the few learning endeavors where you are ahead of the teacher – you know what you like.
Women – if you are with a man who buys cheap wine or doesn’t tip – dump him.
Buy a really great bottle of Wine – save it and nurture it, turning it every quarter- keeping it at a proper temperature and humidity. And then when ready – share it with special friends who appreciate the fantastic nose and exquisite body of this delightful creation. Wine is created to be shared with appreciative friends – not drunk alone.
It is better to share a good bottle of wine than to drink a world class one-of-a-kind wine alone in a closet.
If you like a wine – it is a good wine. If you don’t like a wine – then the wine is not a good wine for your palate regardless of its ratings or what other people say about the wine.
There are no wrong answers concerning wine – your individual palate controls what you taste. But, practice with good wine educates your palate.
Santé from Leonard