Reality is an illusion that occurs due to a lack of wine.
It’s always fun to fine tune the little enjoyments in life to see if a little bit more pleasure can be squeezed out of activities. I enjoy wine with dinner (actually any alcohol in the evening can put one in a very mellow state and makes you so clever – at least you think you are being clever). I will never be a passionate wine connoisseur that lives for the perfect glass of wine, but I do think a little knowledge always enhances an experience.
When Kathy and I were in Portugal we did enjoy having a glass of Port with dinner and wondered if the experience could be added to our life style back home in Minnesota. Easier said than done; Port is produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal and good Port is available everywhere at a reasonable price – no expertise or discernment is required. Finding good Port in Minnesota has become a challenge. Minnesota’s state heritage is primarily northern European (Scandinavia being well represented) and to my knowledge there are no Portuguese communities/restaurants nearby. We quickly learned that although the local liquor store guys knew less than we did, this wouldn’t stop them from recommending the most expensive Port they had on the shelf. Research and experimentation was going to be required. This brings back fond memories (mostly fond memories) of experimenting with alcohol and learning to drink responsibly in college.
We did try a couple of bottles from our liquor store and noticed when we switched from red wine to Port we were feeling more “mellower” than usual at the end of the evening and woke up the next morning slightly hung over. Although both are made from grapes, Port has a higher alcohol content than traditional red wine. There is some interesting history that explains the difference. Port became popular because of the on-again, off-again wars between England and France. England discouraged the importation of French wines via taxation and English merchants had to look for another supplier of wine. The logical place was Portugal which had been a British ally since 1373. Merchants begun adding Brandy (one part brandy to four parts wine) to prevent spoilage in wine shipments from Portugal to England. The resulting product had a 20% alcohol level as compared with to 12% for table wine. Thus was born Port.
I decided to see what could be learned on the internet about Port and red wines. This is where you really begin to appreciate the power of networking on the internet. Two very knowledgeable fellow bloggers who happened to be wine lovers have been incredibly helpful.
I’m kicking off my research by reading In Search Of Bacchus by George Taber. It’s written by a wine lover who chronicles his adventures in many of the great wine producing regions of the world (France, South Africa, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Chile Germany, Russia and the Napa Valley in California). I don’t know if it’s going to be useful for my specific concerns, but it has certainly rekindled my desire to do some more travel abroad and possibly visit some wineries.
The Wine Spectator is the ultimate guide to selecting wines. It rates over 250,000 wines and provides all kinds of information about everything you might wish to know about wine. We are going to try a trial subscription for 1 month.
Wine tasting parties are part of the culture for serious wine lovers and a good way for wineries to market and gain exposure, publicity and customers for their products. We are going to attend our first wine tasting party this Sunday.
It’s always fun to begin a new adventure, you never know where it’s going to take you.