I am thankful for wine because it is an instant link to far off places.
One of the reasons I stay so intrigued by this beverage is because it is a cheap, convenient way to experience a place far away. You've probably heard of the French expression terroir. There's no exact English equivalent to the word, but it is best described as the essence of a place. Terroir is soil, but it is also aspect, weather, altitude, and proximity to bodies of water or rose bushes or eucalyptus trees or mountains. It's the sun and the moon and everything else a grape experiences in its short, little life. It is the terroir of a specific place (Champagne, Bordeaux or Napa) that gives a wine its certain taste. One sip of a big, juicy, dry Rose from the south of France and I can picture myself sunbathing in Provence. And $15 Chianti is a fast ticket to summer in the sun-drenched hills of Tuscany.
I am thankful for wine because it is a unique combination of intellect and hedonism.
Frat guys never sit around pondering the character of Bud Light. But quality wine makes you feel nice and stimulates your brain at the same time! If you develop a passion for fine wine, and desire to learn more, the neurons will fire like the Fourth of July. You will soon find yourself knee-deep in science, geography, history and the study of other cultures. You will become mesmerized by maps, and you may even be affectionately deemed a wine geek. Wine is one of the only things I can think of that combines an ocean of intellect with pure, unadulterated, sensorial hedonism. Remember "Wine is Food."
I am thankful for wine because it makes food better.
Ever have one of those amazing experiences where the sum of the food and the wine together is better than the parts alone? This is the thing that high-profile sommeliers are always trying to capture. Here are three basic premises for lip-smacking combinations. Go for higher acidity. Wine and food were meant to go hand in hand; well-made wines will always have at least a moderate level of acidity, which will leave your mouth watering for another bite of food! Traditional European wines, with their higher acidity, are great with food for precisely this reason. Picture that Chianti with marinara sauce! Use tannin wisely. It can cut through protein and fat. Think of a big, structured Cab with a juicy steak. Matching textures complement each other. Imagine the lusciousness of Sauternes with foie gras, or the delicacy of Champagne with sushi.
Tip: If you ever get into a pinch and need a sure-fire food and wine pairing combination, look to the region. For example, if you have a nice Bordeaux you'd like to drink and aren't sure what to make for dinner, imagine what you'd have if you were there. Traditional cuisine from that region is rich: it's based on duck, geese, and beef. Any of those choices would prove a delectable partner to your wine. Remember "Wine is Food."
I am thankful for wine because it is a healthy drink in moderation.
My ninety one -year-old father-in-law called me last weekend asking for a wine recommendation because his doctor told him it would be good for his heart. He's right! Recent studies show that regular exercise, regular wine, and regular sex can add years to a person's life. (My father-in law proudly assured me that after our conversation, he'd have all three covered.) Red wine is especially healthy because it is fermented on the skins of the grapes, which contain high levels of tannins and anthocyanin’s (note: sorry for the fancy wine geek words). These compounds, collectively called poly-phenols, are produced by plants in response to attack by viruses, fungi, and bacteria. They have powerful antioxidant properties and may help slow down the aging process of cells, and protect against some cancers and heart disease. Resveratrol is an especially helpful polyphenol. Unusually high levels of Resveratrol have been found in Pinot Noirs from very cool, moderately damp climates. This makes sense, since the Pinot Noir grape has very thin skins, is also the most difficult grape to make into good wine and such a climate would make it even more susceptible to disease and rot. Pinot Noir grapes under such conditions work so hard to fight off the bad stuff that they end up producing quite a lot of Resveratrol. Wine is also beneficial because it is a coagulant it thins the blood like aspirin reducing clotting and blockage. Best of all it's a relaxant and relaxed people live longer! This leads me to the last reason I am thankful for wine. Remember "Wine is Food."
I am thankful for wine because it encourages a return to a slower pace.
What is my prescription for a more satisfying meal? Slow down. Turn off the television and open a bottle of nice wine. Talk, laugh, listen, and connect. It's a secret recipe the Europeans have down to an art and one those we Americans make excuses not to have time for anymore. In a world of me, me, me, more and faster, let's not forget to indulge in one of life's greatest pleasures: sharing food and wine, the bounty of the earth, with our family and friends. Rejoice it's good for you too.