By Jay Kitterman
We all enjoy wine! Last month USA Today published an article that Johnny Depp, as part of his divorce settlement, was spending $30,000 a month on wine. The same article went on to report that Depp’s serious interest in wine was proven by his arm tattoo that reads “Wino Forever” which was a cover up tattoo of the Wynona tattoo that he got while dating Wynona Ryder. In addition I learned from the article that Johnny likes Petrus which sells for $2,500 a bottle and that in his cellar he has a three-liter bottle of Chateau Cheval which recently sold for $135,000. I wondered how much one needs to spend on good wine, while still staying within a reasonable household budget.
For this month’s article I met with Danielle Anderson. If you enjoy wine, then you know Danielle. Twenty-two years ago she started working for Geoff Bland at The Corkscrew Wine Emporium, now located on Chatham Road. She and her husband David recently purchased the business from Geoff. They take pride in being a locally owned wine shop that thrives on the educational aspect of wine. Born on the island of Mauritius, Danielle was introduced to French wine at an early age by her father. She still fondly remembers the nightly little glass of red wine with dinner, and to this day French reds are her favorite. Besides consuming wine, she enjoys cooking with wine, and I have included one of her recipes.
A few topics we discussed were;
- How do I know what wine to purchase when there are so many options on the shelf, many with names I cannot pronounce? It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the little signs called “shelf talkers” that have a score and some wine expert’s name or publication on it. If you enjoy wine, then create a relationship with your local wine store expert. Speak to them about your tastes, and watch for tastings.Then expand your horizons. There is so much more than Chardonnay and Cabernet. Try a different style every time you would have purchased your traditional choices. Have you tried a Gewürztraminer, or a Marsanne, or a Roussanne, or a Gruner Veltliner, or a Lagrein, or Cornas yet? There is no substitute for actually experiencing the various options out there other than just pouring a glass.
- I have this bottle at home. How do I know the best time to drink it? Danielle says “Most wines are made to drink when they are released.” Every bottle is different and there are many variables such as your storage conditions and personal taste. Often, if you go to the wine producer’s online site, it will have information on how long to cellar that particular bottle. Danielle likes to say, “Drink it when the time is right.” The worst thing that can happen is that the wine is stored too long and it goes bad. If you are planning to store/cellar wine, then do so in a cool, dark space. Basements are superior to warm kitchens. Aging a wine doesn’t mean it’s automatically going to be better, it just means that its flavors will evolve.
- Where are the best wine values coming from today? Danielle believes the wine from Portugal is one of the best values. The country is having economic challenges, and the wines are undervalued, plus the number of indigenous wines is bountiful. Others in the industry indicate that the Rioja’s, Toro’s, Jumilla’s and Sherry’s from Spain offer great value, plus they are easy to drink with food. Some of my personal favorites and often a good value are wines from the Loire Valley of France. Wines made from the Chenin Blanc grape can range from bone dry to sparkling to dessert. Look for reds from small producers from Anjou, Cheverny, and the Touranine regions. They are known for being juicy, have great mineral notes, and are very versatile. Besides Chenin Blanc, the other two main grapes from the Loire Valley are Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Restaurant lists can be very intimidating, and I often look for an affordable Sancerre. The Sancerre grape is grown in the area of Sancerre in the eastern part of the Loire valley. I enjoy Sancerre because it does not overpower your food. My favorites are bone dry, but still highly aromatic with intense flavors of peaches or gooseberries.
- Why buy wine from a local wine store? Carol and I try to purchase items locally when possible. Danielle of course is very passionate about this issue. Some services Danielle can assist with are:
- Did you enjoy a wine at a restaurant while on vacation or visiting Chicago or St. Louis? Take a picture of the front and back of the bottle, and she will source it for you.
- Having a wine tasting party or need help with pairing wines for a special meal? I did not realize it but Danielle said there are a number of dining clubs where couples take turns hosting and preparing a special theme dinner. Bring in your menu, and Danielle and staff will prepare recommendations for you.
- In the case of the Corkscrew, there is much more than wine. There are gourmet cheeses, Bunn meats, cordials an expanding collection of craft beers and bourbons. If you are stumped about what gift to purchase for someone that enjoys wine, there is a good chance they are a Corkscrew customer and their favorites will be in their file.
Danielle has prepared the following list with her wine recommendations at different price points;
- Recommended $10-$15.
Sola Meritage from California 2013 $9.99
Sanguineti Cannonau from Sardenia 2013 $13.99
Pierre Jean Sauvignon Blanc from Cotes de Gascogne France 2015 $9.99
Ernie Els Big Easy Chenin Blanc from South Africa 2016 $14.99
- Premium Wines $15-$20
. Tres Picos Garnacha, Spain 2014 $18.99
Niner Red Blend from Paso Robles, California 2014 $19.99
Kettmeir Muller Thurgau Alto Adige, Italy 2015 $19.99
Barrique Chardonnay Sonoma coast 2015 $17.99
- Super Premium Wine- $20-$30
. Gloria Ferrer Pinot Noir Carneros 2012 $24.99
Voliero Rosso Di Montalcino 2010 $22.99
Orin Swift Prisoner Blindfold White 2014 $31.99
Nikolaihof Gruner Veltliner from Austria $28.99
- For very special occasions:
Nicolas Feuillates Rose Champagne $42.99
Chapoutier Bernardine CNDP 2014 $51.99
Danielle’s Red Wine Beef Stew
Preparation: 30 mins
Cook time : 2 hours
Serves : 8
- 4 pounds chuck roast, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 cups dry red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Syrah
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 2 large carrots
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Season the meat with salt and pepper, place in a large bowl, and toss with the flour.
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or wide-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Cook the meat, in batches, until well browned on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes, transferring the pieces to a plate as they are browned. Pour off and discard any drippings from the pot.
- Add the tomato paste, wine, broth, onion, bay leaves, thyme, and carrots and bring to a boil. Return the meat and any juices back to the pot (the meat should be barely submerged in liquid), cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours.
Serve with crusty baguette or my personal favorite over a bed of Basmati Rice.
My thanks to Danielle and of course Geoff Bland for establishing The Corkscrew. I am thankful we have independent wine stores like Corkscrew www.thecorkscrew.com and It’s All About Wine www.itsallaboutwine.net in Springfield. They both send out informative emails with their various specials, tastings and other events. Do you have questions about wine? Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try and answer in a future column.
“Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.” Pope John XXIII