Regional wines explained By Andrea M. Johnson
Wine is a complex and endlessly fascinating topic of discussion. You could spend 30 years immersed in education on the finer vagaries of wine culture and still not come close to knowing it fully. Such is the reward and such is the tease of the topic. So never consider yourself ill-prepared for a conversation on wine — we all are. The fun is in the journey.
I’ll mention a few of the major wine-producing countries and offer a selection from each. Hopefully I don’t omit your favorite.
To start the Mama Jama is a favorite from France. French wines are generally recognized more for their subtleties on the palate rather than overt flavors or pushy terroir. Many French vinos can be described more along the lines of their mouth feel, acidity and minerality, rather than the boldness of any fruit or residual sugar present. For a wonderful wine from a wonderful region, try a Chateau les Granges Bordeaux sometime. It has mild fruit and delightful aromas.
Spain is next on our tour. Many of my ideal Spanish wines are coastal offerings that tend to pair well with a wide variety of seafood. (“If it grows together, it goes together.”) Meanwhile their inland neighbors are big and intense, perfect for serving with savory paellas and rich meats and cheese. If you’d like to sample a crisp, fruit-laden white wine with grapes born to complement a salty seafood dish, give an Albarino by Burgans a whirl. It’ll set your taste buds on high speed.
While we’re still in Europe, let’s not forget classic Italian wines. These tend to be more expansive, more generous and more carefree on the finish than wines from other regions and countries. Said another way, the fruit in Italian wines tends to take hold of the mouth, and is often accompanied by the smoke, minerals or the wood they have been exposed to. Italian regions and the Italian palate are more fruit forward and less stuffy than many other cultures (Lambrusco anyone?). Try a friendly Retromarcia Chianti the next time you have a chance. Light, cherry, subtle; it’s a winner.
Finally, from the good ole U.S. of A. we have California wines that comprise several of my favorite appellations: Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and coast, Paso Robles and others. With ample California sunshine and modern harvest practices, these areas have been a most notable wine presence since the 1960s. Domestically, we tend to appreciate bolder and fleshier wines, heavy on fruit and redolent with oak. A favorite wine from the North Coast is Marietta Arme, a subtle and dry compilation of four of the classic Bordeaux grapes, predominately cabernet sauvignon. It’s a knockout wine at a cheers-worthy price.
So the next time you crave a swig or two from the Continent, or straight off the West Coast, come say “Hi” at 45 Central Wine Bar. We’ve got you covered. Salud!