Wines and Drinks for the New Season
My most recent visit to Monticello included the privilege of being alone to peruse Thomas Jefferson’s wine cellar. Variety and diversity seemed to dominate the remaining vestiges of inventory. The experience was instructive and comported with what I came to appreciate about our third president, who had a natural inquisitiveness and an open mind.
Jefferson, a farmer, musician, author, politician and much more, had a clear understanding about the proper role of wines. His notes and journals reflect what I saw that day in his cellar.
Each varietal has its place in the enjoyment progression. Aperitifs and lighter first courses are better suited for most white wines including Rosé. Heavier entrées will pair nicely with most reds. After dinner or with desserts, Port, Madeira (which pairs nicely with chocolate), and other fortified wines are excellent choices.
Cocktails-so refreshing- are forever popular and there are some ways to add special touches. Will Harris owns and manages acclaimed White Oak Pastures, a highly-regarded farm in the deep South Georgia city of Bluffton. Cattle, lambs, chickens, Guinea hens, hogs, turkeys, geese and ducks roam the farm. It’s a happy place
During one visit, while I was sitting in his screened dining area, Harris took a very ripe hierloom tomato and with a hand press, squeezed its juice into a tumbler, added vodka, seasoning and ice and presented for my refreshment a remarkably delicious Bloody Mary.
This was a lesson not lost. I now squeeze oranges for Screwdrivers and Mimosas, limes for Margaritas, adding Agave Nectar and Cointreau. Commercial mixes, I decided, are junk food.
You can learn a lot from travel, particularly regarding food, drinks and nutrition. White Oak Pastures is a 157 year-old family farm focusing on regenerative land management, humane animal husbandry and rural revitalization. Visiting there had an impact on my opinions and preferences about food and drinks.
The days are getting a little shorter with the changing of the seasons. Beverage preferences, particularly regarding wines, will generally taste better with popular food of the cooler months with some slight changes.
We all learn by experience. Going to far away countries for wine discovery isn’t always feasible, but purchasing a bottle of Assyrtiko, a fabulous Greek white wine, is easy. Try it with seafood. Grüner Veltliner, a fabulously food-friendly white wine from Austria is on some retail shelves and Oregon’s King Estate is releasing its version of this delightful wine soon.
Sparkling wines like Gruet from New Mexico are produced coast to coast and are often fairly priced and delicious.
Fall is a beautiful season, a prelude to wonderful holidays and a time to experiment a little. The palate welcomes excitement the comes from flavorful adventures.