Columns by John

John Brown has been a wine and food columnist in West Virginia since the 1980’s. His regular columns appear in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail under the title Vines & Vittles and in The State Journal - a statewide business weekly

Slow down and relax with some bargain wines

I hope that I’m preaching to the choir, but there are few things more pleasurable than sipping a glass of wine with dinner, particularly after a long day of toiling in the vineyard – so to speak.

Wine not only enhances the dining experience, it also relaxes the mind and spirit and fosters friendly conversation among diners. Sound like a commercial for slow food?  Well, I am a disciple of this reemerging philosophy, and I would argue that wine is a key component in the slow food movement.
Unfortunately, many of us rush around trying to fit too much life in too little time and, consequently, many of us view wine as a special occasion beverage.  In my humble opinion, just making it through another day in this crazy, complex world is reason enough to celebrate with a glass or two of your favorite wine.
But, in these rough economic times, can I afford to drink wine each day? Ah ha, that’s what I hope to impart to you  here today. The fact is that most regular wage earners can afford a glass or two of wine each day. In fact, there are thousands of inexpensive and quality wines  now available from which to choose.  

The demand for good, affordable wine is at an all time high, and producers are responding with a sea of new products from all around the world. In addition to the recognizable tried and true wine producing countries such as the US, France, Italy, Germany and Australia, other nations, less known for their viticultural acumen, are now making very good wine.

Recently, exceptional wine has been produced  in such geographically diverse nations as  South Africa, Spain, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Portugal and Austria, just to name a few. Whether you’re looking for red, white, sparkling or rose, you’ll find excellent wines in every country I’ve mentioned.
So how do I learn about these wines (in addition to this erudite and eminently understandable blog/column)? Just ask your wine purveyor or simply take a chance and try the new wines you see on the shelf.
Another great way to learn about wine, in addition to periodicals and magazines (The  Wine Spectator, The Wine Enthusiast and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate are a few  of my favorite sources), is to go online and use a search engine such as Google, Ask.com or Yahoo to request information on wine reviews or wine blogs like this one.

So, to give you a push in the right direction, here are a few eminently affordable wines to try with your everyday “slow food” meal whether it is filet mignon or mac and cheese.

Reds:  07 Cecchi Bonizio Sangiovese ($9);  06 Finca El Reposo Cabernet Sauvignon ($12); 06 Jaboulet Parallele 45 Cotes Du Rhone ($13); 07 Santa Carolina Reserve Carmenere ($14).

Whites:  07 Fetzer Gewurztraminer ($9); 08 Yellow and Blue Torrontes ($11); 08 Dr. Loosen Riesling ($12); 07 Clos Du Bois Sauvignon Blanc ($11).

Pairing wine and food
Collecting wine: patience and will power rewarded

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