It's almost summer, and everyone wants to be sitting on their porch or fire escape sipping a glass of wine and reflecting on the fact that "life is good." This season the days are longer, the weather warmer, and, it feels as if even colors are brighter! Now the question is, what to drink?
Wine is really the original Everyman's drink. There is nothing to fear and everything to learn and enjoy when the subject is wine. Yet, somehow wine's humble, earthy origins have been forgotten, and the wine experts have turned appreciation of the grape into an elite, snobbish club. It is important to remember that a wine exists that fits every purse and satisfies every taste. The real question is finding what you like.
Just the other day I was browsing in a wine shop, my favorite pastime, when I heard a young clerk giving advice to a woman about a "good tasting" wine for a large party. He suggested a California chardonnay that certainly was passable but not really as good as others that I would suggest. Since this encounter I have been thinking about chardonnays and about the recommendations that I would have made to this woman:
* Yellow Tail chardonnay, Australia, is a great dollar value. It is a medium bodied wine that sustains its clear fruity taste throughout the evening. It is the kind of wine you can serve generously since a magnum (large two bottle =1.75 ml) costs between $10 and $16.
* Chateau St. Jean chardonnay, Sonoma California, is a predictable, delightful wine that is also a good dollar value at around $10 - $12 per bottle. It is fruity and has a light, buttery taste. I had forgotten about this wine until I picked up a bottle last week and was,once again pleasantly surprised.
* Schug chardonnay, Caneros California. This wine is a real treat. My first encounter with it was at a lunch in an old Brooklyn landmark restaurant. I was stunned by its elegance and European style. I buy one case of this wine a year, store it my cellar and treat myself when I fell the urge. It sells for about $22 a bottle.
* Newton chardonnay, Napa-Sonoma California, aka RED label. This wine is the sleeper of the Newton family of wines and is overshadowed by the other more pricey wines this vineyard produces. I think it is a joy and bargain. It has subtle overtones of pear, and a lightly oaked taste and costs about $16 - $18.
I chose these wines because they are relatively easy to find, affordable and, believe me, you won't go wrong with any of them.