Tonight, one of my favorite wine tables ever, asked me to pick a red to enjoy with their meal, consisting of Corvina Sea Bass, Shrimp & Mussel Linguine and Rack of Lamb.
After raiding the wine cellar, I narrowed it down to two different bottles: the 2003 Alion from Ribera del Duero (100% Tempranillo) and the 2005 Barbaresco “Valeirano” from La Spinetta (100% Nebbiolo).
Of course, in perfect wine customer fashion, they asked to drink both. For those of you who may know and for those of you who don’t, these are two rocking, heat-packing reds. As a sommelier, I was absolutely thrilled at the opportunity of tasting them both side by side.
What made me choose these wines was their affinity for food and their versatility. All too often, we choose Pinot Noir from all over the world or Rioja or light reds to drink with fish or chicken or lighter dishes. What we forget, however, is that a wine can be full-bodied or luscious and still enjoy seafood and the like.
This is a great example of when both wines, neither lacking depth or body, became heavenly matches with dishes that may have seemed to need a white wine as the pairing.
I have to be honest. The color in the Barbaresco surprised me. Rather than having an orange hue, it almost appeared hot pink. The smell, however, was amazing. Strawberries, leather and anise, this wine’s personality was like Ellen Degeneres: hilarious and easy to fall in love with.
The 2003 Alion was much more intense. Full-bodied, laden with dark, black fruits, this wine had a lot of power. It seemed to be subtle in its approach, but it made you very aware that it was about to take over your dinner, in a very good way, of course.
The point is, both wines were courageous and fearless, yet they enjoyed the pairing of food of all types. These wines didn’t want to take over, they wanted to enjoy the party as a guest, not as a gregarious host.
I found this to be completely true of my hypothesis that wine is human. Wine is good, wine is great. Wine loves delicious company and great company loves wine.