FARGO — The impression of the wine grape growing and winemaking industry as being a fun-loving and romantic, lifelong experience is an illusion. It takes planning, smart capital investment and backing, willingness to work hard, trying to outguess nature's eccentricities, while recognizing and overcoming your own foibles. A glimpse at the wine industry today reveals there are high numbers of competent women meeting the demands and exceeding the expectations of their male compatriots in the business.
Wines only? No way. Red wines, dark chocolate and flowers are the requisite for a happy, rewarding evening extending into the rest of the week. Briefly first, being a horticulturist since my teen years, I'll address flower color and variety. Red is the winner with red roses having the greatest impact. Save the money you would spend on a dozen red roses, and get a single red one instead, accompanied by a bottle of Serralunga d'Alba Barolo DOCG 2013.
FARGO — It is the final days of January, a tough month to get through in the upper Great Plains of America. The Bison winning the FCS National Championship helped, and I'm certain that a good number of celebratory toasts were made with their clinching the title again. For that occasion, I'm sure bubbly wines were tasted.
FARGO — Did you know some Champagne doesn't have bubbles? Known as 'still' champagne, this is considered real champagne for two reasons: • It originates from the Champagne region of France. • It uses the same basic varietals — pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier. The only thing lacking is the second fermentation that takes place in the bottle to create the bubbles associated with this popular wine. Read point number one again: Champagne region of France.
Many people who will celebrate the end of 2017 and the start of 2018 will do so with a bubbly of some sort. A Prosecco? A fizzante? Champagne? Or, how about a Sekt, Leitz 2016 Rudesheimer riesling trocken from Rheingau, Germany? For those who are confused by terms 'Sekt' and 'trocken' on bottles of German wine, trocken means dry in taste, and Sekt means bubbly. When the two are combined on a bottle, it translates into sparkling wine that is best described as off dry or semi-sweet, while a Sekt brut is completely dry.
Giving wine as a holiday or house visit gift is a sign of generosity at any time, but especially so during the Christmas and New Year's holiday celebrations. You may drink and enjoy wine that you pay no more than $5 or $6 five a bottle for, but I advise NOT giving it as a gift to anyone. I view gift giving as a reach above one's own standards to true friends and great relatives. That "reach" doesn't have to be foolishly extravagant to be generous or appreciated, but should be something that shows appreciation and thoughtfulness.
There are no rules for food and wine enjoyment at Christmas. As families evolve, so do their traditions: turkey or ham as the centerpiece, with minimal alcohol when the children are young, to a broader selection of both food and wines as they mature and move out on their own. Food choices run the gamut of turkey, ham, roast beef, fish, or any other meat as your main course. Or you may have moved to charcuterie nibblers as you watch TV waiting for Santa to arrive, or for circulating guests dropping in for a touch of cheer.
FARGO — Consider adding Greek wines to your testing/taste palate. You may or may not like them, but at least give them a chance to win you over, for a number of reasons: 1. Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. They are the ones who introduced wine to Europe, some 6,000 years ago, and revered it so much that they had a wine god named Dionysus who was credited with converting grape juice into heady wine. This led to the development of cults and temples where he was worshipped. 2. They developed advanced trellising system.
Pinot noir never received as much exposure to the general public than it did in the movie "Sideways." There, the pseudo wine expert Miles, played by Paul Giamatti, hyped it up as the ultimate red wine for sophisticated wine aficionados to enjoy.
In an earlier column, I listed some inexpensive wines that are available on the market and enjoyable to drink. Because the response to the article was favorable and the holiday season is upon us, I thought it timely to make some additional suggestions that are both a bargain in price and very drinkable as well.