Ask Me Another, Please

Here are a few of the usual suspects

By Angela Sanchez

Being a sales person in the wine industry for almost 20 years, and now working with my own wine program, I have fielded quite a few questions over the years. Here are a few of the most common:

What is your favorite wine?

I almost always drink rosé, almost every day, all year long. Mostly because, to me, it is the perfect balance between red and white wine and goes with just about anything you want to eat. My favorite red varietal is grenache. Whether it’s full-bodied, deep and full of the aromas of pencil lead from Priorat in Spain or blended to give Southern Rhône wines roundness, fruit forwardness and generosity on the palate, I love it. Anytime I am in the mood for a red wine to have with a nice steak or lamb dinner or just to have a nice glass, following rosé, I choose a nice grenache or a wine blended with it. Also, I always drink bubbles on Sunday. If not Champagne then something more budget-friendly, like Italian Prosecco or Cremant from France or dry styles of California sparking. Look for them to say brut on the label. I do have my favorite producers and regions for my favorite wine styles, but I always keep an open mind and eye to try new ones.

What wine should I serve at my party?

I like parties and wine and fun and, together, parties and wine are fun. I suggest wines that are crowd pleasers, that don’t need a lot of discussion and are easily enjoyed. Keep it simple. You want guests to have something they can feel comfortable with. Something sparkling because nothing says party, or fun, like bubbles. A red and a white. For the white, I recommend an easy drinking style with little or no oak used to age the wine. My favorites come from regions where you can find great value these days, like sauvignon blanc from South Africa or Chile, or a nice blend, usually grenache blanc and viognier, from the South of France. As far as red goes, I prefer something that has not seen a lot of oak aging. Great value areas where you get a lot of bang for your buck are Chile, Argentina and Spain. Try an Argentinian malbec, Chilean cabernet or Spanish grenache. For bubbles, the best bets for quality and price come from Prosecco from Italy and Cava from Spain. Also a nice choice, but a bit higher priced would be a sparkling wine from Napa, California, made using the traditional méthod champenoise.

How long will my wine last?

Are we talking about the bottle you just opened; the bottle your boss gave you for your birthday; or that bottle of 1996 Screaming Eagle Cabernet? If it’s the bottle you just opened, in my case, it wouldn’t last past tonight. If it’s the bottle your boss gave you as a gift and you aren’t familiar with the name, Google it. The winery will have a description and most likely tell you if it’s ready to drink now, within the next year, or hold, and for how long. If it’s a bottle of 1996 Screaming Eagle, it’s ready to drink, so drink it. If it is another bottle worthy of aging and collecting, please make sure to keep it somewhere cool, dry and out of direct sunlight. Aging times vary based on the varietal, style, vintage and producer. Some varietals naturally need longer to develop their full potential — think cabernet and merlot-based Bordeaux. The vintage and producer usually dictate aging. A great producer makes good wine even in a bad vintage, but a bad vintage can make lesser producers struggle to make a wine that can last over time and, as a result, it would need to be consumed young, or as a critic might say, now.

I am always happy to answer questions. I ask a lot of them myself. These are just a few of the frequent flyers. They have one common theme — drink what you like, when you like, and you won’t be disappointed.  PS

Angela Sanchez owns Southern Whey, a cheese-centric specialty food store in Southern Pines, with her husband, Chris Abbey. She was in the wine industry for 20 years and was lucky enough to travel the world drinking wine and eating cheese.

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