No Whining About Wine

I’m a wino, not to be confused with whino, which also fits from time to time.

I’m not a wine sipper, meaning I don’t often choose wine as a cocktail, but I love wine with food.

Does it enhance food? I’d have to be a chemist to know which properties in wine interact with foods to create a pleasurable effect. All I know is good wine starts with a smell that lingers as your first swallow, slides down your throat, and remains as that first bite hits your tongue.

My books all have wine in their titles because they’re about a large, Hispanic family living in Northern California’s wine country. I’m going down the list of the most popular wines as I choose titles. The first was cabernet, then chardonnay and merlot. Next will be sauvignon blanc, my personal favorite. After that I’m not sure.

Mark and I have made our own wine. I call it wine. He calls it hooch. He actually won bronze medals in the Harvest Fair with most of his red zinfandel and one silver for a cabernet sauvignon. The zinfandel grapes came from our own vineyard. The cab grapes were from a neighbor. One year we made merlot. Another year we made sauvignon blanc. All I can say is “it was a learning experience.”

The year we made chardonnay the outdoor thermometer hit 102. The wine got tossed. You can’t keep white wine in a hot garage, and it was just as well. The berries were crushed the old-fashioned way…by stomping. We had to consult “Indian Life at the Old Missions” (my only handy resource) on how to do it. It said, “Start with one clean Indian….” None were handy, so we used one clean matron…me.

Our garage, which now has a tiny air-conditioned wine closet, still has zinfandel from the last year we made wine, 2009, and I recently found a bottle of 1999 merlot and a 2003 cabernet. The home-made sauvignon blanc had to be thrown out (it turned brown), and we have a jug of petit syrah from about 24 vines we planted a few years after the zinfandel.

If I drink our zin with spaghetti, pizza or hefty hamburgers, I don’t make a face as it goes down. And after a glass or two, it improves remarkably. By the end of the bottle I’m smiling, smacking my lips, wising there was more.

In the words of Cervantes, “Time ripens all things.” It’s certainly true of wine. But my favorite quote is from Benjamin Franklin. “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.”

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