Many people who will celebrate the end of 2017 and the start of 2018 will do so with a bubbly of some sort. A Prosecco? A fizzante? Champagne? Or, how about a Sekt, Leitz 2016 Rudesheimer riesling trocken from Rheingau, Germany? For those who are confused by terms 'Sekt' and 'trocken' on bottles of German wine, trocken means dry in taste, and Sekt means bubbly. When the two are combined on a bottle, it translates into sparkling wine that is best described as off dry or semi-sweet, while a Sekt brut is completely dry.
Giving wine as a holiday or house visit gift is a sign of generosity at any time, but especially so during the Christmas and New Year's holiday celebrations. You may drink and enjoy wine that you pay no more than $5 or $6 five a bottle for, but I advise NOT giving it as a gift to anyone. I view gift giving as a reach above one's own standards to true friends and great relatives. That "reach" doesn't have to be foolishly extravagant to be generous or appreciated, but should be something that shows appreciation and thoughtfulness.
There are no rules for food and wine enjoyment at Christmas. As families evolve, so do their traditions: turkey or ham as the centerpiece, with minimal alcohol when the children are young, to a broader selection of both food and wines as they mature and move out on their own. Food choices run the gamut of turkey, ham, roast beef, fish, or any other meat as your main course. Or you may have moved to charcuterie nibblers as you watch TV waiting for Santa to arrive, or for circulating guests dropping in for a touch of cheer.
FARGO — Consider adding Greek wines to your testing/taste palate. You may or may not like them, but at least give them a chance to win you over, for a number of reasons: 1. Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. They are the ones who introduced wine to Europe, some 6,000 years ago, and revered it so much that they had a wine god named Dionysus who was credited with converting grape juice into heady wine. This led to the development of cults and temples where he was worshipped. 2. They developed advanced trellising system.
Pinot noir never received as much exposure to the general public than it did in the movie "Sideways." There, the pseudo wine expert Miles, played by Paul Giamatti, hyped it up as the ultimate red wine for sophisticated wine aficionados to enjoy.
In an earlier column, I listed some inexpensive wines that are available on the market and enjoyable to drink. Because the response to the article was favorable and the holiday season is upon us, I thought it timely to make some additional suggestions that are both a bargain in price and very drinkable as well.
FARGO — Good food and good wine go together like love and marriage. Like marriage and love, if the two don't complement each other in some way, the interest fades. Enjoying a favorite 'comfort food' meal at the local Olive Garden the other night, I was intrigued by a Tuscany red blend named "Head to Head", and with reassurances from the waiter, ordered a bottle to have with my meal. A stellar decision.
The wildfires of this past summer in western Canada, and the recent tragedy of wildfires in California, have affected growers and producers of wines. The worst case of destruction was in the Napa and Sonoma wine growing regions where vineyards, wineries, homes and lives were destroyed. Where vineyards were not directly threatened by fire destruction, but witnessed their vines and grapes shrouded in smoke and in some cases covered with ash, the smoke scent will be noted when the wines made from those grapes are opened.
When asked what got me started on my interest in wines, I say something about how it started in Italy while in the Navy, enjoying their bubbly and Chianti. Or, when I experienced rhubarb wine from the Maple River Winery in Casselton, N.D. The taste of rhubarb wine was one of those "Wow" experiences that encouraged my wife and me to explore utilizing our abundant rhubarb crop for something other than an array of rhubarb desserts. Wait a minute, some of the readers may be saying, "Rhubarb isn't a fruit; it just has sour stalks and poisonous leaves."
FARGO — To celebrate International Champagne Day on Oct. 20, stop by your local spirit store to see what they have to offer. You might be surprised by what you find.