These days’ weddings have become more about a big three-day event rather than a single day of joyous celebration. The happy duo has so much on their plate and many details to work out, not only do they have the wedding day itself; they also have a rehearsal dinner and sometimes a “day after” brunch. After months and months of planning, the rehearsal dinner can be a time for the couple to relax and enjoy the company of family and close friends. This dinner is usually more of an intimate affair than your wedding reception; it is a chance for you catch up with old friends and give due thanks to the people involved with the preparations for your special day. It is also a great opportunity for those of your guests that have not formally met to get to know each other.
Doesn’t it seem like that for centuries wine has always been considered immensely more important than beer? It certainly commands more respect and is usually always the first choice of beverage when we are trying to impress someone or appear sophisticated in a social situation or gathering. I’m sure that when the White House is entertaining important Diplomats or throwing a big fancy gala, that the sommeliers are not running around in their black tuxedos with white napkins presenting chilled bottles of “bud light” to be assessed and poured (can’t you just picture French president Sarkozy gently sniffing the bottle cap). I love wine, but I also absolutely love beer and I think it’s time to give beer the attention it deserves. When I shop for wine what I am looking for is value coupled with intensity of character and depth, and I do the exact same thing with beer.
When I was younger, I always thought that my very own dad was the man solely responsible for coining the phrase “you get what you pay for”. But, I have learned over the years of buying and consuming wine that sometimes you get what you pay for….and MORE! I have sampled many different varieties of wine over the last two decades and discovered that it does not have to be expensive to be good. Don’t get me wrong, there are a slew of wines on the market that I wouldn’t wash my dog with, but, there are also some very enjoyable, well-made wines at reasonable prices.
It was Louis Pasteur who first researched the process of maturation. He was asked to do so by the Emperor Napoleon III and his work drew quite a bit of attention for the first time to the importance of correct maturation. He showed by experiment that wine spoils when left in contact with air. During maturation wine is left to rest and the flavors in the wine to develop. Most wines, of all colors, are produced for early drinking and do not require much maturation time. Many finer wines, however, will benefit from some period of ageing, whether in bottle or cask. Maturation of the wine can take place in stainless steel vats, large oak casks or small oak casks. Small oak casks impart more oak flavors to the wine, among other things. To survive medium or long term ageing the wines will need high levels of tannin, acidity or alcohol, but more importantly must have high levels of fruit, my favorite characteristic in a wine. But, there are several other treatments that must be carried out before the wine is bottled to ensure that you are getting the best possible product.
Well, actually, we all live and learn and eventually discover that nothing is “perfect”. But, if you have ever found yourself indulging in a rich, savory helping of foie gras while sipping on a Sauternes from Bordeaux, that’s as close to perfection as it gets. Wine and food were made for each other. There is no single choice of wine that absolutely has to be drunk with a certain dish, but some are definitely a better match than others. The old rule of “white wine with fish and red wine with meat” is for the most part, long gone. But, there are some very helpful and established guidelines for matching food with wine successfully (there is a reason why chocolate chip cookies go so well with milk and so badly with orange juice).
There are several different reasons why I have always been an advocate for the promotion and consumption of this enticing, aromatic, exuberant fermented goodness we call…wine! First of all, it’s yummy; secondly, it has many health benefits when consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Wine has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Wine can also slow the progression of neurological degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, improve lung function (from antioxidants) in white wine and increase longevity. The supply and demand for organic wine is growing at such a rapid pace worldwide because these wines are both good for the environment, and good for our bodies.
If you love wine and you love sweets, boy, do I have a treat for you…dessert wine! Are you the type of person that feels like a meal just isn’t quite complete without that eagerly anticipated and always satisfying sweet ending? Then may I recommend experiencing the delight and sweet nectar that is… dessert wine. I have always felt that dessert wines are far too often flying under the radar and are not being appreciated like they could be, especially in restaurants. Sweet style wines can occasionally be viewed as unsophisticated by some, but that notion could not be farther from the truth in the glorious world of wine. When I dine out, I usually prefer to drink my dessert; it is definitely less filling and still satisfies that small urge for a hint of sweetness at the end of a good meal. Dessert wines are much sweeter and richer than table wines and are typically served in three to four ounce pours.
Kegs are fantastic in the right situations. If you love local brews that aren't canned or bottled (yet), if you're a beer connoisseur always looking for the latest and greatest and/or if you own a kegerator, kegs are a great way to keep satiated in the beer department.
Dining out can be such a wonderful experience, ordering food off the menu is usually no problem…. you decide what you are hungry for and you order it. Then your server hands you the wine list and its five pages long, don’t fret! There are several useful tips to help you navigate your way through a restaurant wine list:
Lets celebrate!! Are you getting married soon? Expecting a brand new baby into your family? Did you land that dream job you have always wanted? Did those annoying neighbors with the yapping Shih Tzu finally move out of the neighborhood? As we celebrate the special events in our lives there really is only one choice of beverage to mark the occasion, and that would be, of course, Champagne.