“This wine rains kisses in your mouth.” –Insatiable By Gael Greene
This month I’m starting a new column here on the blog. The first Wednesday of every month is Wine Wednesday! Spectacular wines under $10.00. Yep. Under $10.00. Sometimes wine is less expensive where I am, but most of the time it’s more expensive. Hopefully that means that I will pick wines that are well below the $10.00 limit for most of you.
I will post wines that I particularly like. I am no specialist by any means, but I do love wine. I know the basics of the different varietals, what regions generally produce, how wines are made, but this space is all about preference. We all like what we like, and you might like what I like too. I will post food pairings and why those pairings are suitable for the specific wine.
Victor Vineyards’ Roadside Red Blend 2011
Variety: predominantly Zinfandel
Previous Awards or Ratings: 88/100 by Wine Enthusiast, 2013; Bronze in San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, 2013
I like this wine a lot. It just went on sale at the local liquor store here in State College which never happens unless it’s being discounted all over. So you’re in luck as the original price from the vineyard is around $15.00.
The red blend is not too dry, but it has a mild astringent bite with a whole mouthful of flavors. (Side note: astringent is not a taste, but it’s a feeling kind of like prickly puckering of your mouth. It almost feels like it is drying your mouth out as you swallow it, and it gets more intense if you hold it on your tongue) I have never been particularly great at picking out specific aromas or flavors, but I love the blackberry and spice notes. It’s hard to pin down, but it leaves a lingering savory note after swallowing. The alcohol content is moderately high at 14.5%. Wine-o’s would describe the alcohol influence on the wine as being “hot.” This wine, on that scale, is mildly hot.
With wines that I mostly just enjoy and don’t feel, for lack of a better word, orally challenged by (like a super oaky old Cabernet Sauvignon), I like to pair with food that at once mellows the astringent notes while bringing out the more bold flavors. Astringency is primarily caused by solubilized proteins in your saliva (but that is still under research), so foods with some fat is best at sliding over some of those prickly notes. I don’t want to get rid of all of that sensation, so I also chose ingredients that would bring out some of the acidic notes. My best recommendation for pairing is an egg toast!
Egg Toast for Roadside Red
1 slice sourdough bread
1 soft-boiled egg
1 schmear of cream cheese
Whole Grain Mustard
Toast the bread, top with cream cheese followed by whole grain mustard. Peel the soft-boiled egg; smash it on top of the toast. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
The mustard and sourdough are great at maintaining some of those acidic notes in the wine that are often lost with food pairings because of too much fat. All red wines have some inherent bitterness, and toasting the bread brings some of that bitterness out. Likewise, the wine makes the toast snack more savory. Other great pairings are below!
I think wine always goes well with cheese based on the same principles outlined above: some fat and some flavor, so I would pick a goat cheese for its creaminess and earthiness or maybe a Swiss for its fermented sour notes (on the same principle of the sourdough above).
I also think red wine, in particular, is great with sweet desserts because it cuts through the sugar. This chocolate mug cake is so easy and fast. It has quite a bit of chocolate which is astringent in its own right and complements this wine well in particular. I prefer it without chocolate chips and half-baked in the microwave so that I can have mostly warm cake batter. After a minute or so in the microwave, the egg should be tempered enough to be safe to eat if you’re worried about that kind of thing.