This column is about one of my favorite topics: WINE!!! It is all about wine and the joy of learning about it and sharing it.
My own introduction to wine began with lessons about it from my father. He was stationed in France during World War II and learned about wine from the French families who invited him into their homes during his time there. The French, of course, love good food and wine, and appreciate the joy of sharing these pleasures with family and friends. So, my father brought wine home to accompany dinner from time to time. Unlike the Americans, the French pour diluted wine in small amounts to the children of the family at these dinners. So, that is how I learned that wine was to be savored and enjoyed, in moderation, always with food, because also unlike the Americans, the French only drink wine with the food it is designed to compliment. This approach of sharing diluted wine with children is a HUGE cultural difference, illegal in the US, and, of course, not one that I advocate if you don’t live in Europe, but it is how my personal journey began.
The wine my father brought home was wine from California, so that is the wine with which
I began this journey. I learned at a very early age that white wine was designed to be consumed with fish, poultry and pasta and that red wine complemented red meat. That was all I knew for many years about pairing wine with foods. As I grew to adulthood, I had the opportunity, traveling on business, to visit California’s wine regions several times and expand my knowledge. What a world those visits opened up for me! I learned about how wine was made and about the people who make wine. Making wine is, most often, a very personal endeavor. I had no idea! Clearly some wine is made by large conglomerates, but so very many wines are made by small companies, run by families. It is wonderful to put a name and a face of an individual with a wine. That type of association brings the wine to life, and makes the enjoyment of it with a meal so much more special.
Over time, I began to expand my interest in wine to wines from other parts of the world: France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa and on and on. I learned that wine from other parts of the world could be completely different from each other. Each region, each country produces something interesting and different than the last. Of course, everyone ends up having favorites, but all have value and are unique in their own right. As with my initial visits to California, I learned that “feet on the ground,” if you have the opportunity, is the best way to learn about and appreciate wines from a particular region.
Everyone begins their journey with wine in a different way. Many people begin with slightly mellower wines, such as moscato, white zinfandel, sweet reds or sangria. As people get tired of the wines they initially enjoy, they often seek out and find different wines that expand their knowledge. The possibilities are endless. There are so many different wines; it is a joyful journey to discover more and more about them.
This column will be a way to explore new ideas, new wines and new ways to pair them with interesting foods. Come along for the ride with me. We’ll have fun along the way!
Written by Pat Daniel. Permission to publish by Columbus & the Valley Magazine.