Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Table Wine. Cheers for One of Life's Elixirs.

Ahhh, one of the simple things in life: Pot Roast. Photo by Jeremy Keith.


it’s just you and me here. The New York International Restaurant Show and New York Wine Expo have shuttered.

No one’s looking. No one can eavesdrop. So let’s tell the truth and shame the devil: sometimes, a good old-fashioned shepherd’s pie does the trick. Or a mess of collard greens and cornbread. Or black beans and rice with a side of platanos. Or a hunk of corned beef and cabbage with potatoes and carrots. Or veggie stir-fry. Or lasagna. Always lasagna.

Good, basic down-to-earth cooking, nothing too froo-froo’ed, gussied up, stylized and stacked up like architecture. Not that there’s anything wrong with architecturalized food and other haute cuisine – personally, I’m a fan – but sometimes the soul calls out for the basics. Pot roast.

The same goes for wine. Yes, it’s fun to find a jewel with myriad overlapping flavors unfolding on the palate like origami in reverse. But every day? Really? That ain’t life. That’s theater. And perhaps some people would love theater every day of the week. I’d bet my bottom dollar, though, that after 10 shows even they would love to stay home one night, watch trash TV, order in, and break open a nice table wine.

How to find a nice table wine? Waltz into a reputable local wine store and ask a knowledgeable sales clerk. In my case, Jason Spingarn at Gotham Wines on New York City’s Upper West Side pointed me in the right direction. Beaming from ear to ear, he would give one the impression that he had found the elixir of long life. His choice: Casa Santos Lima’s Quinta de Bons-Ventos, Vinho Regional, Estremadura 2011. JS did not steer me wrong.

Keeping life simple and satisfying with bread, fruit, cheese. And table wine. Photo by Zsuzsanna Lilian.

True to its Portuguese roots, Quinta de Bons-Ventos, Estremadura sports a rich eggplant color typical of its famed varietal, Touriga Nacional. Not for the faint of heart, Touriga’s strong and renegade tartness (heavy tannins) are balanced by other lesser known regional varietals, creating a wine that is easy to drink and effortless to enjoy, but with enough heft to compliment most traditional home cooking.

Imagine this: not-so-sweet dark fruit – more reminiscent of sour cherry than cherry – that unexpectedly opens up, revealing a bevy of other flavors (complexity) atypical in most table wines. As the fruit taste lingers, a thread of black pepper slips in with just the slightest hint of tartness.

No need to let the bottle breathe (allowing the open bottle to sit quietly for 30 min before pouring), for the tannins are nice and smooth. Simply uncork, pour and drink, relishing the fact that the wine with the blue-and-white striped label affects your bottomline by a mere $9. Buy a case and be done with it. Literally.

A winner for the table is Quinta de Bons-Vento Vinho Regional Estremadura 2011. Photo from Casa Santos Lima.

What’s the key? Yes, the varietals, but also the wood. Portuguese winemakers never shy away from aging their glorious wines in oak. While the rest of the popular wine-drinking world seems to eschew the oak for steel, producing more of a fruit-forward or jammy style (intense fruit taste from the first sip, often with high sugar and alcohol content), the Portuguese prefer the more spicy and savory tones imparted by casks.

Now, which would you rather have with home cooking: hearty spices that compliment food, or spiked Kool-Aid? I rest my case.

Casa Santos Lima
Quinta de Bons-Ventos Vinho Regional 2011
(Estremadura, Portugal)

$9 at Gotham Wines,
€5,80 online at Weingalerie, ... Rx

No comments :

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
VEVLYN'S PEN: The Wright take on life by Vevlyn Wright is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License .
Based on a work at .
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at .