This was our dinner tonight.
It's no secret that I love wine (I also love chocolate but that's another post all on it's own). I love the smell, the taste, the color. I can taste sunshine and earth in every sip and I love to watch the light through it as I swirl it in my glass. I wasn't really much of a wine drinker until I met Michael. My parents would drink it, but I preferred to have beer. Michael has an incredible sense of smell and taste and it was so much fun to experiment with all the different types of wines made from the myriad of grapes in existence. At one of our bridal showers we received a dozen bottles of varying wines; enough to partake one a month for the first year of our marriage. One of our dreams is to own a vineyard someday, but until then we share our love of wine by searching out good bottles of wine that come in under ten bucks a bottle.
A lot of people don't share my love for wine and I can understand. Either they don't drink or it doesn't suit their palate. It's an acquired taste, one that takes patience and the willingness to explore. One of the biggest mistakes people make in regards to wine, in my humble opinion, is that wine is for special occasions only and that it's not a good bottle if you don't purchase an expensive one. Unfortunately for them, they are very wrong. There's no need to go broke to enjoy a great bottle of vino. We have found PLENTY of great wines that cost $10 or less and they can all be found at your neighborhood grocery.
Take tonight's bottle for example. Granted, the Ruffino Pinot Grigio typically markets for about $12-$13 a bottle, but I got it on sale for $10 this evening. When I tasted it at the store, the first sniff blew me away. "Please tell me there is a perfume that smells just like this!" I asked the wine rep. She laughed and agreed that there should be; it was heavenly. It was light and fruity, a little dry but not too dry, and just the right hint of sweet. I'm no good at detecting those subtle hints of oak and cherry and whatever else wine writers write in wine magazines or on the labels, but my tongue works quite well and I know a good bottle of wine when I've had one! Trust me, I have partaken of $300 bottles of wine that left me wishing to drink vinegar instead.
My biggest pet peeve about wine however, is the attitude that most people take towards it. They think it's like fine china; they stockpile it for years and years, never drinking it until the right occasion. My great grandmother Adelphine always insisted on bringing out the china any time my mom visited her, which was quite often. "It's just me," my mother would protest. "And aren't you special enough to warrant using the china?" my great grandmother would always reply. But like their china, most people keep their wine around, waiting for that so-called special occasion. Every day is a special occasion and like mama always says, "You know not the hour nor the day when you will die, so live every day to the fullest!"
The wines in the grocery store are good enough to bring to the table every night. They're good enough to share with friends who unexpectedly drop by, or with loved ones you've not seen in awhile. They're good enough to cook with (most recipes only call for a cup or a half cup anyway, so find something you'll want to drink). And those wines are good enough to enjoy with a pizza while kicking back on the couch watching Night at the Museum with your family. The majority of the wines that are within the average Joe's price range are meant to be drunk right away anyway, or at least within a year or two. The kind of wines that James Bond drinks are about $1000 a bottle and were made to last fifty years in a cellar at 68F all the time.
And speaking of Mister Bond, the only exception to wine on special occasions is if you're eating out at a nice restaurant; the bottles are typically marked up three to four times their normal price so it's just not worthwhile to order a glass unless it's something special. In fact, the general rule of thumb is to offer a glass at the wholesale price that the restaurant paid for it. Because they aren't sure if they'll be able to serve the entire bottle, they have to try and recoup their costs.
Some wine tips:
*Always store your wine on it's side, not upright. The cork will dry out and then crumble into the wine which is not good. If that happens, your wine has probably turned to vinegar anyway. Of course, if you plan on drinking it right away, no worries on bottle orientation!
*White wines need to be chilled, reds do not. To remember this, white is the color of snow, red is the color of fire. The optimum wine temperature is about 65F for reds, and 45F for whites. Warmer temps cause the wines to age faster and turn sooner.
*Try to store your wine in someplace dark and cool if you don't have a wine fridge. That means out of the kitchen, but away from the windows. Try a pantry or a closet if you don't have a cellar or basement.
*To really get the full effect of your wine, let oxygen get to it. It will increase the "bouquet"–this is why you see people swirl their glass of wine, it increases the surface area which increases the amount of oxygen getting to the wine.