Tag: sangria

Vino Veritas: Embarrassing Wine – What You Drink When Nobody’s Looking



My husband and I recently discussed  out-of-fashion wines and realized that based on the bulk of our experience, our assessments of what’s in and what’s out are different depending on our contexts. He, with his buzzing around his many restaurants on a nightly basis, sees folks struggle with the pressure of public choice: “I really don’t want to look like an idiot, but I also don’t know anything so I’m going to go for what I think will garner the least attention and judgment.” For my customers in the shop, people were buying wine to drink in their house behind their closed doors. Retail shoppers buy the wine they want to drink when nobody’s looking. So I’m going out on a limb here, exposing a list of a few culprits that find rest in my own fridge and basement and glass where I think nobody will find them.

Cheap Tempranillo
What is the most embarrassing of my behind-drawn-curtains wine drinking habits? Could it be the $5 Barbera I drank without shame or ceasing a few summers back? Or the same bottling of a California Zinfandel I enjoyed literally every night for about a month? What about the Vinho Verde I drank through a straw? No, none of these…I think it has to be the constant presence of bottom shelf, easy to love Tempranillo.

There’s nothing unfashionable about Tempranillo; people can still barely pronounce it, let alone remember that it’s a grape from Spain used in making some top tier Riojas and Ribera del Dueros. It’s a great buy, hardly touches the hem of top shelf Cabernet Sauvignon, and is by no means the most common or expected thing to choose. It’s the fact that there are so many in the sub-$15 range that really are stellar, not because they have much complexity or age-worthiness, but because they’re so damn tasty now.

The fresh, unoaked versions I like to keep around (and drink from big old juice glasses with maybe a few ice cubes if I’m feeling crude…don’t tell) taste like grape soda with a kick: soft, round, fruity, plush, a little acid but never too much. It’s what you want to have for your sangria, but also what you want to accompany you as you watch four consecutive hours of competitive food television. It’s ripe, not abrasive at all, low in tannins, and will go with whatever leftovers you have in the fridge. I’m not always proud of it, but I’d be foolish to denounce its usefulness, availability, and tastiness.

Vino Veritas: Confessing a Summertime Love for Sangria



Every summer, without fail, that first blisteringly hot and sticky Maryland afternoon, all I want is a pitcher of sangria.

I know. Don’t freak out, even I’ve had to learn to embrace this habit wholeheartedly (unlike my affection for tequila, which I normally keep on the down low). Critics and hard-core wine snobs may declare it a bastardization of wine itself, but when it comes right down to it, heavy red wine is not pleasurable to drink on a 95+ degree day. It just isn’t. And the goal of the perfect party drink is to deliver a pleasurable (and often alcohol-rich) experience to the consumer, is it not? So while sangria may possess little finesse, there certainly is much enjoyment and that’s what I’m usually after.  So let’s break this down two ways, one classic red sangria and one for those who, like me, are abstaining from alcohol this summer and must make do traipsing up and down the stairs to the basement to get ice out of the only freezer we have, a habit that will become increasingly precarious as I grow in girth courtesy of this pregnancy.

Sangria breaks down to a simple formula: wine, fruit, booze, and some kind of sweetener if you so desire. Don’t over think it, remember that what you’re trying to provide is, in fact, the best party beverage ever, and should therefore induce pleasure not only from that frosty, fruit-filled glass, but also in the process of its creation. So take a deep breath. Enjoy.

The Wine