52 ODES TO JOY: S.U.N.S. WINE

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“Age appears best in four things: old wood to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust and old authors to read.” 

—Francis Bacon 

Wines have the potential to improve over time. This distinguishes wines from most other things we consume. Aging wine can enhance the aroma, color “mouthfeel” (yes, weird, winespeak word which feels funny in the mouth like a cannibal eating a clown) and taste in ways that are more pleasing. 

As is true with people, not all wines improve with age. The vast majority of wines are best enjoyed in their youth within the first year of bottling. 

Better with age has been a truism with some wines since ancient times. The New Testament of The Holy Bible notes that “old wine” is more valued than “new wine.” Luke 5:39 reads, “No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, the old is better.” That said, Jesus of Nazareth, a young bachelor, becomes the life of the party by turning water into wine and the partiers seem thankful to not wait for the aging process before they gulp. 

Joy is the main goal of winemaking and viticulture. Even much of the “winespeak,” the arcane jargon wine snobs love to flaunt can be SMILE-MAKING. Remember kids: “Great people talk about ideas. Most people talk about others. And small people talk about wine.” 

“Punt” is the term for the funny concave, or dimple, on the bottom of a bottle of wine. Some call this a “kick up the bottom.” The purpose of the punt is to allow any sediment to collect in a tight area near the base so it doesn’t blend back into the wine as it is being poured. 

I’m writing this during what was known as “harvest time” for centuries but is now called “football season.” So, “punt” seemed a kicky word to kick off this exploration of wines and aging. 

S.U.N.S. WINES age well. According to “Master of Wine” Jancis Robinson, here are types of wines known to age well and the number of aging years to enjoy their prime: 

CHARDONNAY (2-6 years) 

RIESLING (2-30 years) 

CABERNET SAUVIGNON (4-20 years) 

MERLOT (2-10 years) 

PINOT NOIR (2-8 years) 

SYRAH (4-16 years) 

ZINFANDEL (2-6 years) 

CLASSIFIED BORDEAUX (8-25 years) 

GRAND CRU BURGUNDY (8-25 years) 

VINTAGE PORTS (20-50 years) 

S.U.N.S. (Smile-Making, Uniting, Neighboring, Spellbinding) is the acronym “The JOYrontologist” developed after 40 years researching and studying “joyous aging.” Keep these four, simple elements in mind as you enjoy wine-tasting and S.U.N.S. joys. 

S.U.N.S. WINES (Smile-Making) 

“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.”—Benjamin Franklin 

“Sunny happiness in a bottle” is how I describe my recent introduction to the Australian Pinot Grigio produced by the Barramundi winemakers of the Murray Darling grape-growing region. It is a crisp, clean, refreshing wine with aromas of pear, nectarine, grapefruit and Meyer Lemon. 

Barramundi wines are made for everyday SMILE-MAKING. If you are a friendly, unpretentious, easy-going fun-lover, these wines will make you grin ear-to-ear.  The roots of this winery go back to 1887 but Chief Winemaker, John Pzzaniti, “Pezz,” and his team leaders, Pia Merrick, specializing in whites, and Gary Compton, specializing in reds, have innovated with sustainable viticulture and vinification. 

“G’day” from these sun-kissed Aussies. Pure sunshine year-round paired with lemon pepper roasted chicken in autumn and coconut cake next Mummy’s Day. Even the labels are SMILE-MAKING. Put a smile on your face exploring their fun website, www.baramundiwines.com

S.U.N.S. WINES (Uniting) 

“Wine and friends are a great blend.”—Ernest Hemingway 

VALENTINE WINES for a romantic union? Here are some of the “Love Month” wine suggestions which are master sommelier approved according to Town and Country magazine (February 2021) oenophiles Lauren Hubbard and Sam Dangremond: 

MUMM NAPA BRUT PRESTIGE “…this complex Napa Sparkling wine is an ideal choice for its ability to pair well with everything…” 

TENUTA LUCE LUCENTE “this wine is Italian ‘amore’ in a glass—lusty with red berry, savory spice and red licorice notes.” 

CHATEAU MONTELENA NAPA VALLEY CHARDONNAY “Filled with the flavors of ripe core fruit and a whiff of floral, its creaminess would be a lovely foil to Valentines confections.” 

RARE WINE CO. NEW YORK MALMSEY MADEIRA “a completely under-the-radar option to pair that might just change our world is a glass of Madeira.” 

DONHOFF OBERHAUSER BRUCKE RIESLING AUSLESE GOLDKAPSEL 2019 “Refreshingly bright with just a hint of sweetness, it’s the perfect wine for starting a meal or sipping while noshing on charcuterie.” 

JORDAN CABRNET SAUVIGNON 2016 This wine promises to age well. “It’s got both dark and red fruits, truffly spice and subtle elegance.” 

S.U.N.S. WINES (Neighboring) 

“A bottle of wine begs to be shared. I have never met a miserly wine lover.”—Clifton Fadiman 

Joy, both the happiness and the contentment varietals, is the main reason for drinking wine but blending that feeling with the warm glow we get from helping others can multiply the pleasure. Wine auctions often support great causes, and here are just a few samples of NEIGHBORING via the vine in America: 

STAGLIN FAMILY VINEYARD is well known in Napa Valley for top quality wines and for their support of brain health research. The owners became passionate advocates for mental health after their son was diagnosed with schizophrenia. 

EMTU ESTATE WINERY is one of the smallest in Sonoma, CA but an award-winner in handcrafted pinot noirs. This small-ish wine group is making a big difference supporting disaster relief and community development through their Labyrinth Foundation. 

ONE HOPE WINE was launched in 2007 with a charitable element integrated from the beginning. Each of their wines is tagged to support a specific cause, from helping reduce child hunger to autism research. This NEIGHBORING wine initiative has developed a partnership with Rob Mondavi, Jr., son of legendary California vintner, Robert Mondavi. One Hope Wine founder, Jake Kloberdanz, who got his start with Gallo wines, says, “My original vision was to create an adult version of Girl Scout cookies.” 

S.U.N.S. WINES (Spellbinding) 

Getting lost in some exploration and discovering new things is regularly SPELLBINDING. Two wine regions, one in America and one in sunny Spain, could mesmerize as you connect with the varied “terroirs.” That French word literally translate to “the land,” but in wine-producing areas it means the geographical place + weather, sun, rain, all the natural things that impact the composition of the wine. 

“On the crystalline shores of Lake Michigan, vintners are embracing the character and challenges of the land—and defying expectation of Midwestern wine-making,” states Jeff Chu in “Travel + Leisure Magazine” (July 2021). He continues, “Today, the peninsulas are certified American Viticultural Areas, and a new generation of winemakers is embracing the unique “terroir.” 

American wine tastes have been heavily shaped by California vineyards but many other parts of the U.S. are testing varietals of grapes which could thrive in their part of the country. Michigan wineries and wines that intrigue me after reading Mr. Chu’s article include Chateau Grand Traverse (the region’s first winery which was planted with Chardonnay, Riesling and Merlot fruits in 1974), Black Star Farms (tempts with an award-winning Riesling) and 2 Lads winery which mostly eschews all the pretensions while delivering a bracing rose’ made entirely with Pinot Noir plants. 

Because I find gardening and horticulture SPELLBINDING, I am also interested in visiting Green Bird Organic Cellars & Farm near Northport, Michigan. This small-batch winery produces only a thousand cases a year and they do this with fully sustainable practices, biodynamic methods. Sheep mow between the vines and chickens do the fertilizing.  

Vino from sun-blessed Spain is enjoying a renewed romance for us American wine-lovers. Last year, according to FWS, Foods and Wines from Spain, American spent a record-breaking $400 million on Spanish wines. Here are some flavors, producers and pairings “The JOYrontologist” RECOMMENDS: 

CAVA The signature sparkling wine of Spain is renowned for tradition, Mediterranean “terroir” and craftsmanship. Think New Year’s Eve in Madrid. Anna de Codorniu Blanc de Blancs Brut Reserva is lightly aromatic and incorporates Chardonnay grapes. History buffs can appreciate the name of this Cava come from the Cordorniu heiress, Anna, who married famous viticulturist, Miquel Raventos in 1659. 

SPANISH RED WINES include classic Garnacha and black-skinned Carinena. There are more than 200 native types of grapes grown in Spain. Tres Picos is born on the hillsides of the varietal’s ancestral lands in Campo de Borja but ages for 20 years to showcase the 100% Garnacha harvest. Pairs well with hard cheeses and hearty meals with tomato sauces. 

S.U.N.S. WINES is coming your way in the New Year. Each month beginning in January, “The JOYrontologist” will be selecting four wines paired with four ways to enhance your joy through things which are: SMILE-MAKING, UNITING, NEIGHBORING and SPELLBINDING. 

WINE ONE-LINERS from “The JOYrontologist” 

– Some see the glass as half full and some see it as half empty. I see it can hold more wine. 

– Thank you, wine, I’d love to dance. 

– Exercising with wine lets us seniors work on our balance. 

– Life should not be a solemn journey to the grave but a wild ride with a glass of wine in one hand, pie in    the other and your final words being, “Thank you, let’s go again.” 

– Less whining. More wining. 

– Don’t keep things bottled up, for instance, wine. 

– A day without wine is like—I don’t have a clue. 

JOY-GIVERS CELEBRATING A BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK 

Oct. 22-Jeff Goldblum 

Oct. 23-Johnny Carson 

Oct. 24-Drake 

Oct. 25-Katy Perry 

Oct. 26-Keith Urban 

Oct. 27-Fran Lebowitz 

Oct. 28-Jonas Salk 

(Photo: unsplash)

WINE AND MUSHROOMS SAUTE’—PENNSYLVANIA MUSHROOMS 

(Source: food.com) 

Each week, “The JOYrontologist” shares a recipe saluting a healthy food produced in America. This nutritious and delicious collection is called “The S.U.N.S. Longevity Cookbook” and highlights vitamin B-3 (niacin) which many gerontologists believe holds the promise for a long, healthy, joyous life. 

INGREDIENTS 

  • 1 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced 
  • 2 tbsp. butter 
  • 1/4 cup red wine 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped 
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice 

DIRECTIONS 

  1. Melt butter in large frying pan. 
  1. Add sliced mushrooms and saute’ over high heat until they squeak and sizzle and are nicely browned. 
  1. Add salt, pepper and red wine. 
  1. Simmer for 5 minutes. 
  1. Add lemon juice and parsley. 
  1. Toss well. Serve as a side dish with steak or roast beef; because of the tangy lemon juice this dish also works well as a side with chicken. 

“The JOYrontologist” RECOMMENDS a cornucopia of mushrooms for delighting your taste buds and for nutritional value. Kate Lowenstein, a health journalist at Vice, and Daniel Gritzer, the culinary director of the cooking site, Serious Eats, wrote this in a first-person account called, “I Am Mushrooms…A Magic, Wild, Meaty Treat” published in “Readers Digest” (December 2020):  

“I (mushrooms) continue to be credited with health benefits, some more legit than others. Most of the varieties you can eat have an array of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, including all-important vitamin B and selenium. The maitake mushroom, also called hen-of-the-woods, is remarkably high in vitamin D. But caveat emptor on those hyped ‘adaptogenic’ mushroom teas; they’re perfectly fine for you but unlikely to provide the benefits listed on the label.” 

1,070 JOY-GIVING THINGS FROM MY FIRST 70 YEARS (continued) 

901. “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home” by David Frizzell 

902. Autumn pairs well with wine for reflection and transformation 

903. A college date with Port wine served in hollowed out cantaloupes 

904. Nora Ephron cooking with wine and occasionally adding it to the recipe 

905. Annie Green Springs wine at a Trick or Treat party on Green Springs Avenue 

906. A nice rose’ at John Lennon’s “Strawberry Fields” in Central Park 

907. Drinking Mogen David and Manishevitz wines during the intermission of “Fiddler on the Roof” 

908. “Adam’s Rib,” the classic film with a classic Cabernet Sauvignon 

909. Call me a cab. You’re a cab 

910. Pink cans of chilled Bollicini Sparkling Rose’ at “Legally Blonde: The Musical” 

911. Wine-colored alpaca golf sweater in the 60s 

912. The first time I tasted steak au poivre with a glass of good Cabernet 

913. Breakfast Champagne in Charleston 

914. “Eight Piece Box” by SCOTS with Chardonnay 

915. Squirting Spanish wine from a goatskin “bota bag” 

916. Wine-in-a-box at a lakeside bonfire 

917. Serenading a bottle of wine: “I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends” 

918. Mary Scott’s all-day wine coolers 

919. Tossing back Blue Nun with a nunnery dropout 

920. Chianti bottles as candleholders seeming sophisticated 

921. “Cork and Chef” at Magic City Art Connection 

922. Boone’s Farm and Cheez Whiz in college 

923. Giving Thunderbird wine to those who don’t like red, white or pink wines 

924. Sangria in Palma, Majorca 

925. “Red, Red Wine” first by Neil Diamond and reggae’d up by UB40 

CHEERS TO A JOYFUL, NEW WEEK! 

Read all the installments in this series at www.cullmantribune.com/tag/odes-to-joy-2022.