When company comes, opt for variety
We found ourselves with a variety of wines this week as we had company coming for dinner on Saturday.
Fortunately, we knew what our guest liked and were able to plan ahead. A question worth pondering though, is what to serve to people whom you may not have met before, or whose tastes you don’t know.
There are those will only drink white wine, and among those, those who only drink Chardonnay. Then therre are those who will only drink white wine during the summer but will drink red wine the rest of the year.
There are also those who think the only good wines are sweet wines (we tend not to invite them over). There are also those who think that all red wines inevitably taste like Robitussin.
These reasons, when we have a group of people over we tend to buy a range of things, for example, a Riesling, a Pinot Grigio to go with salads, a Chardonnay to go with something a little heavier, a Pinot Noir for those who like fruit-forward light red wines, as well as a Pinot Noir from France for those who like darker, earthy or flavors, a Malbec if you’re having red meat, or maybe a Syrah from Australia, and a Cabernet Sauvignon.
If we do that, everyone is bound to find something they like and no one goes away unhappy xcept, perhaps, the Pinot Grigio drinker who is coaxed into having a taste of the Cabernet Sauvignon. I recommend keeping smelling salts on hand for this unfortunate incident.
So, we had our friend Pat over for dinner on Saturday evening. It was a pizza night. Now, Pat is typically a white-wine drinker, but she was interested in sitting down with me to taste a few reds. She liked one of them, and said the other one taste like, you guessed it, Robitussin. The Burgundy, made from Gamay, was the one she stuck with. Next time we need to foist upon her a California Pinot Noir in the hopes that it will be a revelation.
Here’s some variety to consider when having friends over:
2010 Gerard Bertrand Merlot Reserve Speciale, “Sud de France” Pays D’Oc, $16.49. This is a 100% Merlot wine, partly aged in oak. The wine maker recommends pairing with grilled meat, sausages and pasta. I’d have to say I agree with that. This is a red of medium intensity, with a clean nose and aromas of blackberry, slowly beginning to develop. It is dry, with medium-plus acidity, medium-plus tannin, and medium alcohol. The flavor intensity is good with blackberry as well as vegetal notes. Good overall quality. Ready to drink now. Make sure you have enough company to finish the bottle in one sitting, as it does not tend to survive the night in the refrigerator. Trust me on that. 83 points.
Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages AOC, Burgundy, 12.5% ABV. Jadot has been bringing us wines for many years now. This is made from 100% Gamay, the classic grape of the southern end of Burgundy which grows on hills facing southwest to south east. It is a wine that tends toward darker red fruits and dryness as well as earthiness. This one has both red and black fruit on the nose, it is very dry with medium acidity and medium-plus tannin. The alcohol at 12.5% is well-balanced. The body is medium-minus. Medium flavor intensity and good balance. The flavor profile includes blackberry, raspberry, black cherry, red plum and black plum. Long finish. 86 points
O Schist! 2011 Riesling, Mosel Valley, Germany, $10.99. The Mosel Valley in southwestern Germany has long been known for producing the countries lightest and most delicate Rieslings. This is not to say that they are lightweights, rather that they can have an ethereal quality. This 2011 from the valley is a beautiful golden color of medium intensity with a clean nose of white fruit, and grapiness. The palate is a bit heavier than some other ones from the region, with good acidity, very dry, medium alcohol at 9.5%, medium body and medium-plus flavor intensity of grape, green apple and a hint of pear. There are some earthier flavors developing ever so slightly in the background, with just the first hint of petrol, which is a classic development of flavor for the Riesling grape. 88 points.
Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at email@example.com.