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.
Thirty-two years ago when I arrived in North Dakota to work as an extension specialist for NDSU, ND's wine industry was virtually nonexistent; the first winery did not open until 2002, when Pointe of View opened in the Bismarck area. Nowadays, there are wineries across the state, offering fruit-based wines as well as wines made from known winter hardy varieties developed by Elmer Swenson and University of Minnesota researchers.
Just kidding of course, I'm really a middle class wine drinker — somewhere above the $15 price point, and around or below the $30 bottle. Occasionally I will be tempted by a $50 bottle of what everyone has deemed a classic, such as a bottle from the famous wineries of Chateau Montelena and Stag's Leap for their victories in the "Judgment of Paris." How on economic earth do producers get a bottle to market for $5 or under? Are these just 'lost leaders' to get the unwary into the store and perhaps purchase a bottle or two where a profit is possible?
Seasoned skiers know that the higher in elevation one goes, the potential for sunburn increases. When we are in the mountains, we wear clothing to cover our body, hats to protect our head, and anything not covered, we treat with sunscreen. Research has shown that grapes grown at higher elevations will also contain higher levels of resveratrol in their skins; that translates to a higher concentration of resveratrol when those grapes are used in making red wines.
Students enrolled in my PLSC 307 class about wine must be 21 to enroll, and taking it will not make them 'wine snobs'. They will, instead, have an appreciation of what goes into making a glass of wine drinkable as well as the history associated with it from the beginning to the present day.
Years ago, former state Rep. Bill Pietsch called me to ask some questions about the possibility of getting a grape wine industry going in North Dakota.
FARGO — You can't read about wine to decide if it is something you are going to like; you have to taste the wine and evaluate it. Something everyone else may like may not be something you'd place on your preference list. Conversely, something that everyone else considers "just a wine" is something that embraces your taste buds from sip to aftertaste. Such an enjoyable experience took place when I conducted a taste test of some of the following wines: • R.Prum Essence Riesling — Mosel, Germany