So, what did this week teach us? White wine can be fun, too. Even if you’re not a middle-aged housewife with a valium addiction. Who knew?
We switched it up this week (sort of) because we don’t want to be seen as provincial or single-minded. Heaven forfend that after two postings our readers would pigeon-hole us.
I was milling about the local Europea (think liquor store meets wine cellar meets deli meets liquor store) and I happened upon an employee who asked if I was looking for anything in particular. In Spanish. I asked him for a full-bodied red. In English. We enlisted the help of the owner, who understood (sort of) what I meant. They helped me find a good wine, with a big body, and lots of strong. That sorted, they asked if there was anything else that I was looking for. I asked them for a pinot noir, of which they didn’t have a fantastic selection, most of it being Californian, and all of it being either a) really, really cheap, or; b) really, really expensive.
A conundrum. Truly. A pickle.
Something inside me went click! and I thought, “Why not try White?” Also, I had run out of ways to describe light-bodied in Spanish, other than to say that I wanted a wine that was small, and easy, and tiny. Also small. Um … small? No? Um … Tiny?
They recommended an Albariño from Spain, it being the chief country that produces the grape. Reasonably priced. Kind of a boring label, but hey: it’s white, so who cares? However, when I got to the till, three people in front of me told me how great it was, so I thought, maybe I’m on to something. (The owner and the employee will get no further credit for the purchase. It was my idea. Mine!)
I got my wines and left, but not before buying a secret weapon, to be revealed later.
On the menu: Slow-roasted chicken with thyme, garlic, and new potatoes, sweet potato mash, ginger baby carrots, green beans with fried onions and almond slivers.
This one’s a snap, even for the culinarily challenged. Preheat the oven to 160° Celsius. (320° Fahrenheit, for you Yanks, but seriously: don’t you think it’s time? Come on. Really now. Convert already. We put up with your movies. Can’t you be reasonable?)
In a large bowl, toss in some chicken thighs. However many you want to eat, but let’s start with eight.
Grab a handful of thyme, pull off the leaves (tree, bush, or naked lady?), and add them to the chicken.
Pour in some olive oil; about four tablespoons. Let sit.
Take a head of garlic and separate it into cloves. Don’t peel them. Since you’re going to slow-roast them with the chicken, leaving the skins on makes them yummier. Trust me. Toss them in with the chicken.
Take your new potatoes (the little ones; the ones that look like baby potatoes) and toss them in as well.
Pour 150 ml of red wine over the whole mess.
With your hands, mix all of the ingredients together making sure to coat everything generously. If you don’t, it won’t cook the evenly and all of your friends will laugh at you.
Take the chicken thighs out and place them into two roasting pans. Spread them out evenly, skin up. Strew the potatoes and garlic around, allowing for some space between all of the ingredients.
Sprinkle black pepper over the whole lot and pop the pans into the oven for 30 to 45 minutes.
Be sure to check on it every now. Whenever possible, remark how amazing it smells to everybody. Walk around in amazement, say, in your neighbourhood, bragging about your culinary prowess. Interrupt conversations to let people know that your chicken smells awesome.
I called my life partner (girlfriend is too flimsy, we’ve decided, and life partner leaves so much more to the imagination) on the phone to tell her to come over and smell my chicken. In so doing, I woke the baby, who hadn’t slept in days apparently, from the reaction I got on the phone, and I was promptly hung up on.
Note to readers: not everybody appreciates just how hard it is to cook for four drunk adults. Steel yourselves.
This much fun required wine. As it was still a little early, we decided to start with the white. Might as well get it over with, we thought.
But we were wrong.
Wine: Lagar de Cervera, Albariño, 2009, Spain, $177.01 MXN
Rating: Two Bottles
Readying myself for what I was sure was going to be a tart ride to nowhere, I was pleasantly surprised when I took a sip and found that a ballet had ensued on my tongue. Tiny citric pixies danced on tiptoes upon my taste buds. Trippingly they danced; yea, and lightly.
This is a very drinkable wine with a slightly citrus aftertaste. (Could there be apple in there? Could there be? Maybe. We all tasted it. It must be so. Peaches? Apricots?) It doesn’t linger on the palate, as so many white wines do. Instead, it finished clean and crisp. Each sip as pleasant as the one that preceded it.
As I said, this was an unusual and uncharacteristic departure from red for us, but well worth it. We finished this bottle amidst conversations of vacations and impending ordinations. My life partner and M’s husband’s uncle is being ordained this summer and we were trying to figure out if we could make it. How often does a person get ordained, after all?
Myself: thrice, but that’s besides the point.
On the wine, we were all in agreement: this is a definite re-buy.
But why only two bottles, you may ask?
Well, because it’s white, that’s why.
At this point, we should introduce the star of this week’s show.
Product: Decantus Elite Wine Aerator, $592.00 MXN
I’d like to thank Mike R for the suggestion. I was a little skeptical, but after trying this thing out, we all agreed, it rocks.
We tried a taste of the Lagar first, without aerating. Then, with. Huge difference. And before any wine connoisseurs out there write to inform us that white wines don’t need to be aerated, let me say this:
Back off; get your own sandwich.
What an amazing purchase. It takes out the tannin-y too muchness without compromising the taste. Best purchase of the year, so far. We couldn’t wait to try it out on the red.
So, without further ado …
Wine: Monte Xanic, Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008, Mexico, $389.00 MXN.
Rating: Two bottles.
Alas, only two bottles. Even after a good aerating (and who doesn’t need one of those, now and again?) it only made it to a two. What held it back? The label, you ask? No. The label was good. The label was sound. Signed by Hans Backhoff, the oenologist, no less. Did Hans lie? Would he do that?
No. Hans didn’t lie. It’s probably that we saw the price tag and thought: more money means more better. Just like the pretty label test, the price tag test didn’t hold up, either.
Two bottles isn’t bad. It’s a definite re-buy. The wine, actually, is very nice. It finishes well. When you smell it, at first, it is reminiscent of a friend’s basement; of the family home in Belsgrove, Scotland. Peppery, yet forceful. It hits you up front in the mouth, but relents quickly, like a repentant lover. “I’m sorry, lass,” it tells you. “I love ye so much,” it says. “I just go crazy sometimes, pinin’ for me haggis … ACH! Woman: you know how I am!”
But it’s that tender finish at the end that redeems this wine. Inasmuch as it’s rough up front, it’s tender in the end. (And who doesn’t need one of those, now and again?)
In short, we liked this wine. We liked both of these wines. No three bottles, this week, I’m afraid. Only two, both; and, only two bottles. Perhaps next week we’ll find our three bottler. We shall see.
We can, however, say this: we’re having a lot of fun!