Last week we got a sneak peek at what a couple of Winnipeg Free Press editors enjoy when it comes to wine. As the resident wine geek here at the Freep, it pleases me greatly to have seen my colleagues "get it," so to speak, when it comes to wine and food.
Among Winnipeg Free Press writers, it would seem, there's a similar appreciation of wine and food. Columnists Gary Lawless and Doug Speirs each had such thoughtful responses and genuinely interesting wine picks to provide that, like last week, the column practically wrote itself.
With the NHL collective bargaining agreement negotiations in full swing at the time of this article, Gary didn't have much time to wax poetic about wine -- understandable. But where he was brief, humour columnist Doug Speirs had no shortage of things to say about wine and otherwise.
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"PAGE 2 ALLEGED HUMOUR COLUMNIST AND, WHEN PRESSED, I GIVE THE OCCASIONAL TOUR OF THE BUILDING. I'M KIND OF LIKE A GREETER AT WALMART. 'HI, WELCOME TO THE FREE PRESS.'"
The Cloof Cellar Blend (Darling, South Africa -- $18.99, Liquor Marts and beyond). This wine is exactly like me -- it's extremely quirky and there's nothing subtle about it at all. In fact, the Cloof website says if this wine was a movie, it would be "the Quentin Tarantino remake of Sideways." Which sounds about right to me.
To say this red blend is concentrated is like saying the Titanic sank after taking on "a certain amount of water." Composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage and Shiraz, it is mostly press wine -- the last drops pressed from the skin after fermentation. It's a fruit-forward, jammy wine with great mouth feel, a strong aroma of berries and vanilla, with wonderful blackberry and chocolate flavours. It's not a snooty wine, but it drinks like something that should sell for twice the price. It's very reliable. Again, just like me.
14 Hands 2010 Hot to Trot Red (Columbia Valley, Washington -- $15.25, Liquor Marts and beyond). This punches well above its weight class. This is not a wine that wallops you over the head; it's a wine that sneaks up on you and says: "Yeah, go ahead, have another glass; you deserve it." You could easily bring this blend to a snooty wine affair and pretend it cost you an arm and a leg. It's an elegant, velvety wine with subtle fruit flavours and nice vanilla and fruit notes in the aroma. Like Budweiser, it has great "drinkability."
Most memorable wine-and-food experience:
Off the top of my head, I cannot forget the evening we attended a wine and cheese party at a friend's home and, when someone asked me what time it was, without thinking, I simply flipped my wrist and upended the bottle of wine I was holding, which happened to be open and spilled all over the floor. Being a classy guy, I sopped it up with my feet. "This wine goes very nicely with tube socks," I muttered, then walked away with as much dignity as I could.
Wine is like almost anything else in the world... it's meant to enjoy and you enjoy it twice as much when you learn more about the fermented grapes you are sucking back. That's why, without fail, I never miss reading my friend Ben's column. Drinking wine for a living? He has the best frigging job in the world. (Hey, I won't deny that last part. -- Ben)
Albert Ponnelle Bourgogne 2009 Reserve de la Chèvre Noire Pinot Noir (Burgundy, France -- around $32, Kenaston Wine Market).
If I had to name a staple I'd go with the 2009 Chateau le Monteil d'Arsac (Haut-Médoc, France -- around $29, private wine stores). It's got great structure with deep and powerful flavour -- earthy and complex.
Most memorable wine-and-food experience:
Babbo in New York City (co-owned by celebrity chefs Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, each of whom have their own line of wines -- Ben). It was that true celebration of wine and food. The sommelier paired the wine perfectly and it was just that mixture of a great night in New York, a buzzing restaurant and spectacular food and drink. My wife looked beautiful and it was one of those nights that will be in my life's movie.
Wine at our house is as much a part of the meal as the food.