Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Sweet Spot

You've probably been in this spot, too. You've got a couple of friends who like nothing but white zinfandel in all its sweet simplicity. What do you serve them? You can always open several different bottles and let them have their white zin while you have something else.

But it's really nice when everyone shares the same wine with dinner, so that you can enjoy the experience together and compare notes. It's also nice when you can help nudge your friends toward something that's better made, that's balanced, and still satisfies their craving for something sweet. Of course it's times like these when you run the risk of coming off as a "wine snob." So, you don't want to make fun of white zin -- it does sort of make a good starter wine for many people. But you do want to help others see what joy is possible when you try matching different wines with different foods.

Right off the bat you could think about serving a riesling, which many oenophiles believe to be the finest white wine grape in the world. Alsatian riesling, with its zesty acidity and balance, happens to be one of my favorites. A French Vouvray, made from the chenin blanc grape, is another good choice. Many have residual sugar enough for those who like their wines sweet but enough dryness and complexity to please the rest.

Another wine I like to break out at times like these is a terrific Pine Ridge blend of chenin blanc and viognier. This wine has a terrific ripe pear and melon aroma with a little sweetness upfront and a pleasant dry finish. I've found it manages to make virtually everyone at the table, with their varied preferences, pretty happy.

I also discovered today that it's a darned good companion for an Easter dinner menu that includes honey baked ham and sweet potatoes. Very enjoyable, indeed. And those two grapes, viognier and chenin blanc, are almost guaranteed to prompt questions and discussion. Yup, there's a lot of ways to the heart of a white zin drinker if you're willing to help light the way.


Anonymous Tony said...

As a reformed white zin drinker (12+ years without a drop and counting) I too try to help the suffering see the light.

6:53 AM  
Anonymous beau said...

I'm normally not a huge Cali fan, but I think the Pine Ridge CB-Vio is one of the most pleasant white blends to be found. The Viognier doesn't overpower the Chenin (or the drinker's tongue). As you say, it's easy to like and will likely please everyone at the table.

7:47 PM  

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