Summer is winding down — although it’s still plenty hot, here in the desert — and I am gladly using up all my white wines and getting back to my favorite reds. The other night I was having fish for dinner and opening my wine cabinet took out one of the few whites left — Menage a’ Trois. I don’t even remember buying it, but their wines are decent everyday wines and (as the name implies) a blend of three wines.
The fish came out of the oven, the green beans were done and the rice was pretty well ready — maybe a little on the crunchy side. Fish is not my favorite food, but this was pretty decent. I reached for my wine glass and took a sip.
Now I’m guessing this has happened to you at some point. You have your mouth set for something and then you taste something else? Like when you thought you were reaching for water and took a big gulp of milk instead? Or thought you were reaching for milk and it was orange juice? It’s not that it is bad, it’s just not what you expected.
The Menage a’ Trois was sweet! Oh, yuck!
I grabbed the bottle — Moscato! Dessert wine. The blurb on the back said it had a pleasant floral aroma (yep), and the blend of Muscat grapes from three different vineyards yielded a luscious blend of apricot and peaches. You know, if I’d been in the market for an inexpensive dessert wine, it would have been fine, but I wasn’t. I set aside the wine, deciding water was the better choice.
The next day I was in Trader Joe’s and saw their Coastal Sauvignon Blanc. My preference in Sauvignon Blanc is Monkey Bay from New Zealand which is crisp without being bitter, but TJ’s doesn’t carry that. So what the heck, $6.99 for a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.
“How bad can it be?” I asked myself as I checked out the label. After years of experience, you would think that when I utter that particular phrase, an alarm would go off in my head saying “put the wine down and step back!” You would guess the thinking part of my brain would say, “spend a little more and get something you know is decent.” But No! I went on ahead. I mean for $6.99 I’ll take a chance.
So that evening I uncorked the TJ’s SB, took a sip and cringed. I hate wine that makes me cringe. It tasted as though the grapes were slightly under-ripe. I sighed and poured a glass. Maybe it’d be okay with fish. (Still had another piece of fish.)
Well, it was okay — just. Drat. So now I had two bottles of wine that I didn’t like. I debated pouring them down the drain — I mean, they weren’t all that expensive. But then, inspiration hit. Why not “blend” them? That’s what they do at the winery, right? They mix the different varietals together until they get what they like. All right, I can do this — and I did.
The result of mixing two “just okay” wine was another “just okay” wine. At least it wasn’t sweet and it didn’t make me cringe, but it didn’t make me smile, either. After two nights of drinking this concoction, I thought, “that’s enough of that!” and headed for Total Wine.
There I bought the Monkey Bay and let myself be talked into a French Sauvignon Blanc which the young man assured me was “just as good.” I opened it the other night and it was an improvement over the TJs, but it was still sharp. More acidic than under-ripe, but still a bit on the sharp side.
Now I’m back to Monkey Bay and am looking at the zinfandel I bought at the urging of the same young man. “You’ll love it, ” he assured me. Yeah, well I’ll be the judge of that. And if I don’t, I can always mix it with some of the left over French Sauvignon Blanc. Or I can just pour it all down the sink and go back to drinking what I know!