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On Canines and Wine
I was reading a column in our local newspaper the other day by “Uncle Matty,” who writes regarding dogs (www.unclematty.com). His theme was the careful choice of an animal for lasting benefit to both the family and the animal, and he wrote following President Obama’s choice of a new family pet. It struck me that most of his precepts, which I have numbered and italicized, could apply to wine enjoyment as well.
So here goes.
1. Recognize your limitations with respect to time, energy, space and environment. Assembling a wine cellar is like stamp collecting. You can’t have it all, and you probably shouldn’t “collect” bottles anyway. Consult your wallet and your own taste, and as you enjoy wines from a given region, sample and buy more. Mix it up with bottle sizes, including some magnums for a festive presentation, and some champagne splits for a predinner treat..
2. Be aware of any allergies among family members, and equip yourself to deal with them. Nobody will enjoy a wine that produces an allergic reaction. We have therefore learned to avoid unfiltered wines, no matter what their pedigree, to avoid this possibility.
3. Research several different breeds that best complement the needs of your family unit. Start not with the wine, but with the foods that you enjoy, and then, see what wines go best with them. If you really like game, you should have some bottles of fine Burgundy in your cellar. If informal cookouts are more your style, then be sure to stock up on Beaujolais for the summer. With crabs, a chilled Entre deux Mers, or a Muscadet sur lie, will delight your palate without breaking your budget.
4. Remember that you are embarking on a 15-year journey with this creature. Fine vintage wines should not be drunk young. It takes time for them to mature and reach their flavorful peak. The best Bordeaux wines, from good years, can develop over a dozen years, and with magnums, 15-20 years until their maturation is hardly excessive. So plan for the future with a wine cellar. When you really want that fine rare vintage, you’ll be glad that you bought it years ahead of time. We recently enjoyed, for a special occasion, a magnum of 1982 Château Prieuré-Lichine, which I had purchased at the property in the Margaux region 25 years ago, and Alexis Lichine had signed the label. It was a grand wine and made a fine occasion even more memorable.
5. Take Your Time. With wines as with other pursuits of value, find what you enjoy, and take time to find out why, and then begin to develop you preferences. The hours you spend in your wine cellar are enjoyable, and a nice bonus to serving the wines. So thanks to Uncle Matty for these ideas, and good luck to the First Family with their latest addition.
Wine Of The Month
Some thirty years ago, at a barbeque in Texas, I tasted one of the finest rosé wines I had ever had. It was a Ste. Michelle wine, and I have looked for it ever since. A distributor told me a few years ago that production had been discontinued. However, two weeks ago during a trip to South Carolina, I located a bottle in that Southern institution, the Piggly Wiggly. The wine, a 2007 Chateau Ste. Michelle Nellie’s Garden Dry Rosé from Columbia Valley ($12), was delicious. It had good body, no objectionable sweetness, and flavor notes of strawberries and cranberries. It went very well with the Easter roast of lamb. Try a bottle if you can find it.