Saturday, April 19, 2008

Changing Tastes in Food and Wine

There was a time when my diet was strongly oriented toward meat--steak, roast beef, hamburgers, pork chops and an occasional lamb chop. Actually, that was about 30 years ago, and I'm probably much healthier today for replacing that diet with a pattern that might be called Mediterranean--pasta, fish, vegetables, fruit, olive oil, nuts, garlic, beans and whole grains. If I were on death row and asked to choose my "last meal," I think it would be rigatoni with a spicy tomato sauce.

When I was in my carnivore phase, my wine buying focused on huge Cabernets and buttery Chardonnays. But when I drink those wines with what I'm eating today, I usually find they overwhelm the food.

European wines generally tend to be more subtle in their approach--more acid, less sweetness, less oak. While they may not be as enjoyable as their New World counterparts when tasted on their own, they go better with the garlic, olive oil and tomato-laced flavors of Mediterranean dishes. Grenache and Mourvedre-based wines--whether from the South of France or the North of Spain are ideal. And those are the wines I could gladly drink every night.

As for my "last meal wine" that's a tough call, but there's no question that it would be a Southern Rhone.


  1. I just tried a bottle of La Veille Ferme, a blend of cinsault, mourverdre, syrah and petit verdot. The 2006 recolte is actually wonderful, for the price. It has all the elegance and balance one may expect from the french winemaking tradition. This would make a great companion to your death row rigatoni. I paid 12.86 CAD in British Columbia, but I remember it was 5.99 in the US.

  2. I last had the 2006 La Vieille Ferme a month ago [see note, March 12, 2008], so it's time for me to go at it again.

    While wines such as LVF go beautifully with light dishes--even fish--they are in no way insubstantial. Tannins are there but they come from the peels and pips rather than oak extracts. I love the Southern Rhone tradition (not always followed today) of fermenting the stems along with the grapes.

    In my part of the U.S., the price of La Vieille Ferme is subject to a lot of fluctuation--probably because there's a lot of of the wine available and distributors want to keep it moving. I've seen prices ranging from $5.99 to $8.99. I'm willing to buy at any of those prices but, of course, I wait for the $5.99 sales to buy in quantity.