Judging a wine by its label, better half edition
Today i have a double dose of Judging a wine by its label with two wines that happened to end up in my house because my wife picked both up based on the label and little else.
When drinking wine my wife and i trade traditional gender roles, she is the one who appreciates reds, while i am a white wine fanatic. In picking wine labels, however, it would seem we both hew to traditional feminine/masculine marketing. i choose labels with strong, crisp balanced design, she chooses soft, pretty watercolor labels. my choice in colors ranges from black to white, she goes for pastels. (It should be stated here that, from this small sample, my wife’s eye for design picks better wines than mine.)
As a sparkling wine lover one of the things that puzzles me is the extreme reluctance of people to drink the champagnes, proseccos, and cavas of the world with any kind of food that isn’t party snacks. here you have a wine that often costs more than any comparable still wine, they are oftentimes handcrafted and have a texture and acidity that is more than ideal for a number of foods. One of the reasons for this, i believe, is the fact that most people associate sparkling wine with the oftentimes overprice luxe champagne, no matter where it is from. This may seem like common sense, but i can’t help to think that sparkling wines from elsewhere would be more accepted without their 800 pd. gorilla of a cousin.
One of the best food friendly sparkling wines comes from that long lived grape chenin-blanc from the loire valley, and Jean -Francois Merieau makes some of the most interesting. this wine has a nice crisp acidity that comes from an extremely low dosage of 4 grams per liter, making this wine an ideal
match for richer shellfish (we went with scallops in pumpkin=hazelnut broth up top). The wine has an earthy quality to it, recalling herbs (especially thyme) and dirt, an interesting contrast to so many sparkling wines that have an emphasis on a clean palate. At only 16 dollars for an organically farmed, artisan made sparkling wine i can’t think of a better value.
The second bottle, Palacio “Petalos” Bierzo from the Mencia grape has become sort of our house red, medium bodied, goes with most red meat, and easy enough on our non-oenophile friends. This wine was originally picked up as a case filler because my wife loved the label and it has infiltrated our house to become our fallback red. The wine is medium/full bodied, not too tannic and seems to go with about everything. It reminds me a lot of a lighter burgundy which is never, ever a bad thing. Pick a few bottles up.