Trying to make sense of the diversity of wine on the store shelves is like trying to figure out all the new people you meet in the college dorm. It took the best part of a semester to learn enough about each dorm mate to determine if I thought they were cool or a complete dork. Likewise, with wine, a little exposure to the unfamiliar often produced a surprising and lasting relationship. The wine equivalent of the guy that cranks up Turkish folk music and never does his laundry can sometimes make a better friend than the Polo-shirted Corvette-driving dude. This is how it would look if wines were dorm mates.
Cabernet is definitely the dorm stud. Popular and with a good build, he’s on both the soccer and football team. He’s not right for every occasion, though. Sometimes he’s a bit over the top. Like when he wore his wrestling suit to class. Merlot is a lot like Cab but his sports are badminton and curling.
Beaujolais is so different from other wines. It’s like that weird guy at the end of the hall. Some people liked him. I did not. After a semester of hearing his ramblings about his spirit animal being the fish, I completely avoided him. Sorry Beaujolais lovers, I don’t get it.
Blended wines are like the dorm pharmacist who made it a lifestyle of trying to mix every possible concoction of native plant and cleaning product in an attempt to find the perfect buzz. While I didn’t relish the thought of trying his hallucinogenic bath salts, most of my favorite wines are a concoction of several varietals.
Pinotage has very different flavors: bananas or even tropical fruit. Every dorm has the Pinotage guy. He’s different, yes, but he’s also fun. Most of his siblings ended up as shepherds or in the circus and he definitely sports his family’s weird gene. Because of him you would never have the experience of air-playing a didgeridoo to whale songs.
Brunello is the sultry diva. Everyone wanted a date with her but starting around $45 a bottle, we usually didn’t have the money to take her out. Bordeaux wines are the upper classmen with a few years under their belts. Boone’s Farm is the guy that dropped out two weeks into the first quarter when he learned there was no recess.
This week’s recommendation is a white from Argentina.
Piattelli 2009, Torrontes ($13.99): Who hasn’t had a crush on a foreign exchange student? She even smells exotic; like flowers and honey. Have a fling with this one and you’ll brag to your friends about it.