For most, selecting the right bottle of wine for a special occasion is a chore. Whether you know a little or a lot about wine, finding a suitable bottle for a friend’s 30th birthday or new engagement requires a bit of reflection and research.
Thankfully, selecting wines for everyday sipping is less stressful. In fact, most wines consumed in this country fall into a category I like to call “Tuesday night wines.”
Simple and yummy, these wines are so approachable that Tuesday night is reason enough to pop the cork.
Take Castle Rock Saintsbury Garnet Pinot Noir or Cloudline Pinot Gris. High in acid, moderate in alcohol with lovely fruity aromas, they are made for the weekday table. They pair well with meatloaf, Chinese takeout or anything in between.
Can’t finish the bottle? No worries. Like the foods they pair with, Tuesday night wines make great leftovers. Simply cork the bottle, and store it in the refrigerator. Reds or whites will taste just as good the following day. Dose it up with a blast of wine preservative such as Cleveland-made Vineyard Fresh, though, and the wine will last almost a week.
When it comes to buying everyday wines, most people make their selection based on price and attractiveness of the label with little to no knowledge about the wine in the bottle. This hit-or-miss approach can result in some real lemons.
The best discoveries are made by sampling and sharing recommended bottles with friends. Like test-driving a car, you’ll know the right one when it comes along. To get started, describe what you want to the sales staff at your local retailer, and ask for a few suggestions.
For Tuesday night wines, seek out ready-to-drink, fruit-driven wines with soft tannins (in reds) and crisp acidity.
Like most wine enthusiasts, I enjoy opening wines that are unusual and perhaps pricier for special occasions or weekend dinner parties. The rest of the week I enjoy Tuesday night favorites with the hope of being able to turn my friends on to a new value wine. For me, that is a gift in itself.
Marianne Frantz, CWE and founder of the Cleveland Wine School, was joined by Cellar Door Tasting Consultants in selecting and sampling wines for this month’s Cellar Notes.
NV Cristalino Cava, Spain ($9): Dry, medium bodied with lots of tiny bubbles and lively acidity. Fruity aromas of apple, lemon and lime with a hint of mineral. Perfect for sipping straight, or try mixing with orange juice as a mimosa.
2008 Dona Paula Los Cardos Malbec Rose, Argentina ($10): Delicate aromas of red fruits, including strawberries and raspberries, along with a beautiful pink hue make this wine a natural for Valentine’s Day or any day of the week. Refreshing acidity makes it perfect for the table.
2006 Cloudline Pinot Gris, Oregon ($16):Golden yellow hue with beautiful lemon, pear and floral aromas. Creamy texture and medium-plus acidity coupled with bright fruit. A perfect partner for roasted chicken, pork tenderloin and Chinese or Thai takeout.
2006 Michael Pozzan Annabella Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($16): This melt-in-your-mouth Cabernet Sauvignon is easy to drink, sip after sip. Ripe tannins are balanced by crisp acidity and lots of fruit aromas. Try a glass by the fire or sip with a burger.
2007 Saintsbury Garnet Pinot Noir, Carneros ($22): Bright red fruits, including cherry and raspberry, are balanced by medium alcohol and bright, refreshing acidity. A red that drinks like a white, try this Pinot Noir with salmon, seared tuna or turkey with cranberries.
2005 Michael David Winery Earthquake Zinfandel, Lodi ($30): Rich and velvety on the palate with tons of dark, juicy fruits, including plum, raspberry, vanilla and spices. Ripe tannins make it a great wine for pairing with dark chocolate. Flourless chocolate cake comes to mind.