Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass
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After three years of sipping, spitting, and slogging her way through bushy vine leaves and cellar cobwebs, award-winning writer Natalie MacLean takes readers behind the scenes of the international wine world, exploring its history, visiting its most evocative places, and meeting some of its most charismatic personalities.
In Red, White, and Drunk All Over, Natalie travels to the ancient vineyards of Burgundy to uncover the secrets of the pinot noir, the "heartbreak grape" from which some of the most coveted and expensive wines in the world are made. She visits the labyrinthine cellars of Champagne to examine the myths and the mystique of luxury bubbly and the grandes dames who made it the drink of celebration the world over. She pulls on sturdy boots to help with the harvest at the vineyards of iconoclastic Californian winemaker Randall Grahm and goes undercover as sommelier for a night in a five-star restaurant with a wine list the thickness of a phone book. She looks at the influence of powerful critics, notably Robert Parker and Jancis Robinson, invites readers into her dining room for an informal wine tasting, and compares collecting notes at a bacchanalian dinner with novelist Jay McInerney.
As funny and engaging as she is knowledgeable, Natalie has an unconventional wit, curiosity, and obsession with all things related to wine that make for a tour both amusing and informative, from grape to bottle to glass.
Alternatively, try charred vegetables—zucchini, eggplant, and peppers—with reds that have a smoky character: Spanish tempranillo, Italian brunello di montalcino, and Canadian baco noir. The smoke-tinged sweetness of the food marries with the wine’s ripe plum and berry flavors. Grill or saute broccoli and green beans in olive oil to soften and round their flavors, or smother them in a butter or cream sauce, and they go nicely with a lightly oaked Californian or Chilean sauvignon blanc. So relax
represents the “complete philosophy of the whole product. If you take one stone out of the wall, the building will collapse. If you don’t do the dosage, customers will say the wine is harsh. If you do it right, they won’t notice.” Back at Bollinger, the bottles Bompais successfully disgorged are recorked and restacked, along with those that have been done by machine. The stacks are as many as twenty bottles high and rest on nothing but thin strips of wood. The six-year-old still lurking in me
American drinkers to quirky, artisanal French wines for more than thirty-five years. In his devotion to a region and cultish customer following, he’s more like Hayward than dissimilar. French wines are losing ground due to several factors, Lynch explains to me later by phone: increased international competition and decreased domestic consumption. Sales have been declining steadily for the past five years. In fact, the only categories still growing are the most expensive French wines, some 2
“Great with"—Great with Chicken, Great with Pizza & Pasta . . . (There’s also Great with Friends, which should really concern anyone who stops to think about it.) If wine names can be misleading, the back label copy is often about as believable as a Harlequin romance. In this purple prose, every vintage is spectacular and every wine goes perfectly with chicken, beef, pasta, and cheese. That’s why I love the sense of humor of Californian vintner Sean Thackrey. He parodied this nonsense on one of
stick with them, even through unfashionable vintages.” In fact, some expensive wines are meant to be consumed early. A number of leading Californian producers make their wines to be drunk young. Their strength is their primary fruit, which fades over time. His only word of caution about such wines: “You have to be careful not to forget about them before they go south on you.” It’s true, I’ve made that mistake myself. In fact, I wish someone would invent a wine gadget called the Maturity Meter. It