What’s your ‘Wednesday’ wine?

People are always asking me what my favorite wine or grape varietal is.   That is an impossible question to answer when the world offers so many delicious and intriguing wines from incredibly historic places.  I enjoy drinking my way around the globe and, if the wine is sound and of good quality, tastes like the varietal(s) and is a good pairing with the food, I am happy.

However, I know people are looking for wine recommendations not an esoteric comment that makes me sound smug.  So, the following is a picture of the label of the wine we drank last night.  This is one of my favorite ‘Wednesday wines’, affordably priced (around $15), I have tasted many vintages and while I liked some vintages better than others, I have never been disappointed.

2014 Bodegas Ondarre Reserva Rioja

This wine is from the Rioja region of Spain and is a red blend of 85% Tempranillo (pronounced ‘temp-rah-nee-yo’), 10% Garnacha (Grenache) and 5% Mazuelo (Carignan which is generally grown in France).  It was aged in American and French oak barrels and, as it is a Reserva, it was aged for three years (probably in tanks with one of those years in oak).  On the palate, the wine is dry and fresh with ripe red berries, plum, dusty leather and finishes with a bit of soft vanilla spice.  The wine shows a medium to medium plus tannin structure but presents soft on the palate with just enough bright acidity and a long finish (which is surprising considering the price point).

I love Rioja wines and, while I was lucky to spend a few days in the mountain town of Laguardia in the La Rioja region of Spain, my brother-in-law, Tom Vonderbrink is my real Spanish hero.  Tom spent 40+ days on his first pilgrimage walking the Camino de Santiago – the Way of St. James.  The Bodegas Ondarre is located along ‘the way’ he walked, and the winery website pictures a pilgrim with a hiking pole walking through their vineyards.  I thought this would be a good ‘shout out’ to Tom along with a wish and a prayer that we all can get back to an adventurous life in the very near future. 

Tom, in the spirit of giving, family and friendship, I have shipped a bottle of this 2014 Bodegas Ondarre Riserva to you as a wonderful memory of your accomplishment (along with a bottle of 2016 Cune Rioja, just because).  Please enjoy and drink to all of our health and to all ‘essentials’ in this crazy world.

Santé

Sudsy

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What’s on your Easter dinner table?

Got a text from a friend asking what wine to pair with Ham for Easter Dinner. Let’s face it, most of the time, that Ham is probably from the Honey Baked Store. While I could pontificate about the coating on the outside of the Ham, remember it’s about the people that will be at your table enjoying the holiday with you. What do THEY like?

If they are into wine, it’s going to be a tough call because the Honey Baked Ham you just bought is going to wreak havoc on most juice. So, forget the Cabernet or Merlot (because the sweet coating on the Ham will make a tannic wine taste bitter). But if you know your group will expect red wine, you could go with something from Beaujolais. Perhaps a Georges Dubeouf Beaujolais Villages or a Louis Jadot Beaujolais. (I would not upgrade to a Beaujolais Cru like Morgon or Fleurie as they will simply cost more and have more structure…unless you want to put a Cru on the table for you!) These recommended wines will not break the bank, will be fruity and ‘red,’ and will be a reasonable pairing for the Ham and all the accoutrements.

Another option is a Mumm Brut Rose which has nice body, is made from Pinot Noir, and serving it in a champagne flute makes for a festive presentation. Your family will feel special!

If you have adventurous guests coming, you could always consider a Riesling or a Gewurztraminer but I’m guessing Aunt Mabel probably would like a White Zinfandel just as well.

Why not end the dinner with something fun and different? What is your family heritage? If your ancestors were French, perhaps a Sauternes; if you are German, perhaps a Beerenauslese Riesling; and if Hungarian like me, perhaps a 5 Puttonyos Tokaji. Just a few examples but fun to end with a little ‘family ancestry’ which everyone will enjoy and will embrace experiencing something from the ‘Old World’ that Grandpa may have enjoyed. The wines mentioned could be served alongside an almond tart with Mascarpone! Save those chocolate bunnies for another night!

Happy Easter!