Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The House Wine Evolution

I was recently asked, "So…Wine Guy…what wines do you usually have just sitting around to drink at home?"

Aside from the sheepish little grin I still get when someone calls me "Wine Guy," the question got me thinking. Honestly, there hasn't been much of anything resembling a "house wine" around the Vineyard for quite awhile. One of the upsides to this wine thing is that there's usually something new around to try. One of the few downsides? It's possible to lose sight of a "favorite" everyday wine.

(If you remember, the general answer to "What's your favorite wine?" is "Whatever's open.")

Digging back through the foggy mists of memory, there was a time not too long ago when there were standard, inexpensive wines purchased pretty consistently 'round here...before the daze of regular wine tastings and regular worship of Most Things Sonoma.

One move and two jobs ago, I usually kept a bottle of Rosemount Estates Shiraz-Cabernet around. When I started courting the Sweet Partner in Crime, I started buying the 1.5 liter bottles instead of the standard size. I revisited Rosemount's 2005 vintage this week for old time's sake. Rosemount's wines usually fall into the "pop tart wine" category, as many of their offerings are pretty indistinguishable from other inexpensive Aussie wines. Unlike most cheap Aussie Shiraz, this wine has a little more depth and character. The nose is very fruity, as you'd expect. The body is full of blackberries and cherries with a nice smoky undertone. The finish is fruity. It's very nice to drink just sitting around, and the smokiness makes it a better than average choice for barbecues and the like. Burgers and chocolate each go hand in hand here. Look to pay $6-9 for a 750ml, but you might as well splurge at around $12 for a big bottle.

Drinking wine with the SPinC opened my eyes to, among other things, three important observations. First, she introduced me to a set of oversized wine glasses she'd break out at the slightest provocation. Learning about proper-sized drinking implements is key to proper tasting. Second, I learned never to leave a full wine glass on a low table if Jessie (the lovable chocolate lab armed with the Furious Tail of Utter Carnage) were nearby. Third, I learned that it's socially acceptable to drink white wine. I almost exclusively drank reds before we started dating. She almost always had a bottle of Meridian Chardonnay on hand when I would stop by. The vintage in the store right now is the 2006. It's still a pretty decent quaff. The nose is melony with some oaky scent. I remember Meridian being much oakier in the past, but they've dialed that flavor back a good deal, leaving a much better balance between the oak and fruit. It's certainly on the oaky side of the "oak vs. butter" competition. It's quite pleasant on the finish, too -- nice fruit and a lingering smoky flavor. At $5-7, it's a great deal.

The closest thing to a "house wine" we currently have is the nearly-everpresent 1.5 liter bottle of Redcliffe 2006 Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge. One of my favorite finds of the last year or so, this is a good solid everyday wine. I wrote about this wine in my recent article in Cincinnati Magazine. It's from New Zealand (where they make my many of my favorite Sauvignon Blancs). The nose is full of grapefruits and peaches. The body is crisp with lots of grapefruit flavor and the finish is nice and crisp, making it both a great sipping wine and a "what do we have that will go with this?" food pairing wine. A 1.5 liter bottle can be had for around $12.

"But wait, Wine Guy," you're saying, "You told us not to drink wine straight out of the fridge! You can't taste the flavors!" Very true...but I learned a neat little trick. Pour a glass of wine chilled to fridge temperature. Put the glass in a microwave for 10 seconds -- no more. Ten seconds in a microwave takes the chill off the wine, leaving it at practically the perfect temperature without harming the flavors.

(As the SPinC aptly pointed out, "Um...couldn't you just leave the wine out on the counter for a few minutes?" Of course you could -- but what's the fun in that?)

So, what wines do you keep around on a regular basis for everyday drinking? Inquiring vines want to know.


Nina9 Studio said...

wow you got a new picture! who took it?

The Naked Vine said...

A little bird, of course... :)

JettieSatellite, The_Wizard of Covington said...

Lately, I've been enjoying the heck out of Hayman Hill 05 Zinfandel. It has fruity, almost tomato-y quality. It goes well with everything, even Chris Matthews.

Aside from that, I don't have a wine I keep on hand at all times. They tend to get drank, though, I suppose Root 1 Cabernet would come close.

Anonymous said...

You know us box wine lovers... Black Box 2006 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon!

Anonymous said...

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc (love the Red Cliff, too)

Wolf Blass Shiraz (Australia) and Goats Do Roam (S. Africa)

-- Some guy in Austin

Anonymous said...

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot has been my favorite lately...just got a 3 for $25 deal!

I used to keep a bottle of Rosemont Shiraz around... never did like the other inexpensive shiraz (ick - yellowtail made me sick once!)

The Naked Vine said...

Thanks for all the suggestions. I sense another mailbag coming soon... :)