Dec 7 2016
Few beverages are as old as wine, and thank goodness! I can’t imagine our ancestors making it through the ups and downs of humanity’s evolution without it. I mean, where would the great literature of the world be without wine? Or great romances for that matter? For most of our history as wine drinkers, we have consumed wine like water – literally. Water was too dirty and dangerous to drink for a big chunk of our past, so we drank wine instead.
There are conflicting claims out there, but wine has been around since at least 4,000-5,000 BC. Naturally, there have been tons of regions and people making wine over the centuries as a result. Some of those often fall through the cracks for American wine lovers in their 20s and 30s, mostly due to obscurity, lifestyle, misinformation, or just the sheer volume of available wine in the U.S. Below are my top picks for wines we tend to forget about and why we need to give them the proper pour that they deserve:
It’s no secret that Americans don’t do after dinner drinks – we have an erroneous image of Port as a wine you have to drink with a smoking jacket on, while you behold the fine horses ambling about your estate. As my friend Ethan says, Save Port Before It’s Too Late! What we should learn from the Iberians is that lingering after a meal, talking and enjoying one another’s company absolutely improves the quality of our lives. All Port isn’t collector’s vintage wine, or expensive.There is a literal rainbow of styles to get to know. In fact, some of the best Port is perfect for complex yet low-alcohol cocktails. Try it, you’ll love it, I promise! Also, it’s instant class in a glass.
Some of the shiny and new marketing campaigns will tell you that you can only be cool if you drink orange or even black wine – the weirder-sounding, the better. But classics are classics for a reason. In Bordeaux, you will find some of the most memorable and well-made wine you will ever have the good fortune of tasting. Contrary to popular belief, bargains abound. Just look beyond the famous and expected chateaux….if you have $20-30, you can get an amazing bottle of Bordeaux and $10 or $20 more open up some truly impressive options. The best part: plenty of Bordeaux wine can age beautifully for years, so when you find one you like, get a case — you’ll have sublime drinking options in years to come, without major effort on your part.
Let’s face it, our thirst for a taste of history and knowledge feels even more gratifying when it gives us an edge over our savvy friends. Enter dessert wines, sweet wines with a luscious mouthfeel and sometimes higher alcohol. Unfortunately, dessert wines are often the red headed stepchildren of lots of wine lovers, simply because people don’t know what to pair with them or which ones to buy. I mean, seriously, does Passito sound like something that is easy to drink? YES, it is and…turns out that wines like Passito, (made from raisin-like grapes that are hung out to dry before fermentation) are a big thing in various countries with a long history of winemaking. Most of them are balanced, with delightful acid and especially shine alongside hard-to-pair foods like ultra-spicy Asian or Mexican. I recently had a Passito from the Sicilian side-island of Pantelleria and it knocked my socks off.
The latest on-premise trends in key wine markets have taught us that anything with an antique feel is cool again (when was the last time you went out and DIDN’T see 5 different bitters-based concoctions on a cocktail list?). Time honored authenticity and know-how can be found in these antique wines and they should be rediscovered. That’s what Amarone is all about. Amarone rolls all current and upcoming trends into one glass: it too, is raisinated like Passito but dry, bitter and intense — and unlike most wines made from dried grapes, it’s red! Bring a bottle to your next Friendsgiving and you will definitely get the most eye rolls while your back is turned for being such a wine nerd/snob.