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Wine Blogging Wednesday #67: Red Wines to Pair with White Wine Drinkers

March 24, 2010

What red wine would you choose to pair with white wine drinker? That’s the question asked by Wine Blogging Wednesday #67 host Joe Roberts of 1WineDude. And no cheating with an Australian sparkling shiraz, either, Joe says.

Because I’m on WBC-or-Bust campaign, and I want to get one of 12 spots on the bus to travel around Washington wine regions before and after this year’s Wine Bloggers conference in Walla Walla, a Washington red is an obvious choice so I asked the Wine Guy at Trader Joes and he suggested the 2007 Red Diamond.

In real life, given this challenge, I would base my recommendation on what I knew or learned about the person, what was the occasion, and what food was being served. So I asked myself:

Who is this mythical white wine drinker? What white wines do they like? Why don’t they drink red wines? What food screams red wine to me? What food really elevates the experience of the wine–and vice versa? Which food demands red wine?

I immediately imagined the scenario of the red wine drinker and the white wine drinker at a steak house trying to agree on a bottle of wine and settling on wines by the glass. If that mythical white wine drinker sticks to his or her white wine allegiance, he or she is missing out.

What else to taste for this challenge was determined by the generosity of Shane Gelinas of the Gelinas Wine Group. Yesterday I had the good fortune of attending an industry tasting of Gelinas wines as well as wines from the Truman Wine Company. When the tasting was over, I asked Shane if I could take some wine home with me–especially wines that I didn’t get a chance to taste (because I spend too much time talking with winemakers!!). He told me to take what interested me that was open so I picked up two reds (a Folkway Cab which I hadn’t had a chance to taste and was VERY anxious to, a 2006 Latria Spanish grenache carinene blend, a 2007 Groundwork grenache I adored, and I was offered two whites which I had tasted and liked a lot.

Now that I had for wines for WBW#67,  the question was: what’s for dinner? I picked up a ribeye steak for myself, and a chicken breast for my spouse which we prepared with pesto and oyster mushrooms, plus mushroom risotto and green salad on the side. (He’s recovering from a traumatic bicycle accident where he broke his C2; only yesterday was he permitted by his doctor to take his neck brace off. His “chew” muscles are still getting strong enough for a steak, even a tender rib-eye!).

First off,  we tasted the 2007 Red Diamond Merlot, under $10 out the door from Trader Joe’s. We didn’t like the nose when I first opened the bottle–a little strange and funky with an alcoholic chaser. In the glass, the color was nice with some depth. There was a surprising richness to the wine, almost syrah like, with plum and cherry, but no cola. It had a bright, clean finish, and for how much fruit character it showed, it was also nicely balanced.

This Red Diamond merlot wine would be a great choice for a white wine drinker. And if he or she didn’t like it, you’re not out a lot of money. We were very happy with this wine at this price.

Second up, we dove into a 2006 Latria Montsant red blend of 50% Garnacha and 50% Carinena. According to the bottle, Montsant is a region of northeast Spain in the province of Catalonia and these grapes are from a high elevation vineyard, about 1500′.

We really really liked this wine but agreed it would not be a go to wine for the typical American white wine drinker.

It was really pretty in the glass, and an overhwlming nose that made me want to swoon! David described it as “truffley.” The balance between fruit and spice and acids and tannins makes this a great wine for tapas or a meal of just about anything. However, we suspected that the minerality and tannins would put off most white wine drinkers–unless they like super minerally whites! This would be a good choice for a white wine drinker who prefers wines in a more European style while others would turn up their noses. We were surprised and impressed by its nice long finish. Great wine for only $12 at B & L; usually it’s around $15 which is still a marvelous value.

Third in line, we poured the Groundwork 2007 Grenache from Sans Liege. Jane and I loved this wine at Tuesday’s tasting and I loved it again today. It was excellent with my steak as well as my husband’s pesto mushroom chicken. It was beautiful all around–in the nose, the mouth, the soul. We all three loved this wine. The alcohol is a stunning 15.3%  but because it was so well balanced (and not at 70 degree room temp but about 60) it didn’t taste hot. It was very complex with floral, fruit and earth flavors including cherry, truffle, and caramel as well as spice; somewhat like a carnation.

It danced on our tongues–our enthusiasm alone would convince a white wine drinker to give it a whirl across the dance floor of a palate.

This wine would make a grenache believer out of just about anyone and at $19 a bottle, you should give it a place on your dance card for sure!

Fourth and finally, we experienced Folkway’s Black Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. This is an absolutely beautiful wine in every way imaginable.

How could a white wine drinker not fall in love this wine–and with the person who shares it? As David put it, “You don’t need a Ph.D to figure out and enjoy this rom-com of a cabernet.”

Not to say that this wouldn’t satisfy a more sophisticated red wine drinker because it certainly would! With plenty of blackberry and cherry fruit lively acids bringing it into balance, and a long savory finish, this cabernet is a steal at $36. It was supple, satisfying, pleasing–euphoria in a glass, and a knockout with my steak. And I love the woodcut artwork.

At the tasting, I talked at length with one of the brothers, Lino Bozzano, who is producing this wine and I look forward to visiting their winery and writing more about them! BUt for now, this post is clocking in at over 1200 words so that, my friends, brings this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday to a triumphant close: three winners for the white one drinker, and four winners for red wine drinkers!

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