Friday, April 08, 2005

A Box of Wine Beneath the Bough, a Comic Book and Thou Beside Me Snoring in the Wilderness...

The great box wine experiment is now in its second week or is it in its third, which time frame tells you why there is a great box wine experiment. We are wine sippers who might have a nice glass with supper if it's something you can legitimately have wine with. But we are not always sure, so sometimes we draw back. For instance, I made some sauerkraut last night, and I certainly wouldn't drink wine with that. Beer was made for sauerkraut, though come to think of it I think I had a diet ginger ale. Those who mate wine and food -- their art the perfect seraphic indissoluble bond -- would tell me and my wife to get us to a gustatory nunnery. Here I am saying wine and sauerkraut don't go, but now I play the game of Dare and Google, a game of my own invention which involves saying something with absolute authority and then googling the truth of it.

And I find in the case of sauerkraut and wine:

Domaine du Colombier 1997 Crozes-Hermitage ($12.99)Clear pale straw color. Heady, perfumed floral aromas over fresh pears. Flavors follow the nose, dry and tart, sweet pears and citric acidity lingering in a long, consistent finish. My wife picks up a whiff of the controversial "cat-spray" or "boxwood" character and finds it offensive, but for me it's at the threshold of perception and not at all unpleasant. U.S. importer: Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., Winchester, Va. (Nov. 5, 1998)

FOOD MATCH: Works fine with leftover pork and sauerkraut, a combination that calls for a full-bodied, aromatic white.

So there it is. Sauerkraut and wine are joined at the hip. My point is that my wife and I in our gentle ignorance do like an occasional glass, but our timid definition of occasional means a bottle can sit partially consumed in our fridge for a long time. That's not good for the wine. Oxidation. The taste rusts. So having read in our very own SF Chronicle that there are some good box wines out there, I poked around our neighborhood Albertson's (where a ring of pickpockets is operating, but that's another story) and found back on the far wall a modest assortment of box wines, including some the Chron recommended.

The magic, the Chron said, is the bladder in the box, the wine bladder somehow vacuum laden so no air comes in contact with the wine no matter how slowly you dribble it out. We tried the Hardy's Stamp of Australia chardonnay and the Hardy's Stamp of Australia syrah.

The chardonnay really seems bland. One is tempted to gulp it. The syrah at least tries to have a conversation with the inside of my mouth. There is at least some What's That? going on. I don't know what "that" might be or even if there's a that there. It may be when I taste wine I am tasting the externalities -- the ritual with the cork, the art on the label, the feel of the bottle in my hand as I pour. Perhaps what I am tasting when I taste wine is all these sensations twined together.

When I taste the wines I am describing, I may be incapable of thinking outside the box.

I just made myself smile. As for the box wine, we shall see. I paid good yankee money for these two boxes of wine, and I will drink them to their dregs. They don't have dregs, of course. I may not be a wine connoisseur, but I remember when you could get a fine set of dregs in an inexpensive bottle of wine. What the dregs were I don't know.

An expatriate tequila worm come to a sad end? Wouldn't it be pretty -- and just a little French -- to think so.

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