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Drinking Phaedra [Jul. 9th, 2014|10:42 pm]

Time was, the two of us would see off a bottle of wine over dinner - not every night, but on those occasions when we opened a bottle, we would finish it. Now quite often we don't. It's not a problem, and drinking the same wine with different meals can be quite revealing. There are people who try to combat wine snobbery by telling you that it doesn't matter what wine you drink with which food, drink what you like. I'm not one of them: I enjoy the game of working out what will go with what, and while there are no absolute rules, some pairings work much better for me than others.

This particular sequence probably starts on Friday evening: anyway, it starts with a stew of lamb and courgettes and chick peas, and a bottle of red wine - and since it was the end of the week, and I felt like it, it was quite a big red (a Costiès de Nîmes, I think). Both were good, though there wasn't any particular synergy between them.

This left me with a glass or so in the bottom of the bottle - hard to tell, since it was old enough that there was likely to be quite a deposit. Most of it went into a risotto the next day, with radiccio and dried porcini mushrooms. It was a hot day, and I wasn't in the mood to drink a heavy red (though my default would probably be to drink more of what I've cooked with) - in fact, I was half minded not to serve wine at all, and just drink water (yes, we do this too): then I spotted a bottle of French rosé... Which was fine, not remarkable in itself, and went surprisingly well with the risotto. And equally, though less surprisingly, well with spicy chicken kebabs the next night. Except that there wasn't enough of it left, so we moved on to a different rosé.

This one was different all right. Scroll down to the rosés and it's the one on the left: Phaedra Xinomavro from Waitrose (this is the URL on the label, but I can't find Phaedra there: the label also explains that 'Phaedra' means 'bright', so put other associations out of your mind). It's a darker rosé than I would usually buy, as my Platonic ideal of a rosé is the classic Provence style, pale and dry and perfumed, rather than the modern version, dark and fruity (and probably too sweet). Phaedra, it turned out, was not over sweet, and it had a curious edge - in retrospect I compared it to retsina (it didn't taste resinated, but it gave the same clean finish to the wine). I'd probably have marked it down as an interesting experiment. But we were out on Monday, and I put together a quick dinner of tagliatelli (spelt tagliatelli!) and what's-in-the-fridge? sauce - onion, the other half of the radiccio, cream and gorgonzola, plus some walnuts - and it was wonderful with the other half of the bottle. That edge cut through the richness of the sauce, and the fruit had enough character to balance it. That Observer review says it has "the crunch and tang of cranberries" and I see what they mean.

Which goes to show...

[User Picture]From: gillpolack
2014-07-10 09:23 am (UTC)
It goes to show that a glass of wine with a meal is seldom a bad thing. (I"m more prone to drinking water these days, but I still enjoy wine, very much - just less frequently.)
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2014-07-10 10:40 am (UTC)
Water is good, too.
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[User Picture]From: karinmollberg
2014-07-10 10:57 am (UTC)
I completely agree, we usually drink roundabout the same way, though we would mostly slowly finish a bottle of wine after dinner after bringing the Short People to bed but not always (in fact, we drink in much more moderation than one might assume from my way of writing extatically about it but you know, how I love my bite of hyperbole -with a topping of cream sauce- though not as much as our fav. Fitou that I will come back to).
Living with an alimentation snob does not allow for freedom of that kind but people must do what they must yet so do we: rosé with risotto, yes indeed, only F. does not favour it, at all. I am all with you on the "gris" from Provence where others prefer the original clairet (not to be confused with what the English mean when saying claret but you, of course, know that;) coloured more like one thing you might actually like if you don´t already: a very light Pinot Noir from Alsace that can be drunk cool(ed), it used to be my fav. wine for several summers in Hamburg where it went well with rain and fish, yes!
When it comes to the reds, I´ve developed a fancy for Fronton besides the Fitou we both agree on. I am slowly but menacingly detecting, what it is I like about certain grapes I like to describe as "girl" wines (though M. Cro Magnon says, "that´s silly" ...which to me is exactly the point and what they can make you, if you´d indulge yourself beyond reason); they are fruity but not heavy, not charcoaly yet softly sumptuous, velvety and vanilla&liquorice-like... or something, to others they may smell and taste of tar but I like the grape Negretto and think, it reminds me of a good Nero (sic!) d´Avola, another favourite.

F. does a lovely lamb chop with three colours of peppers and (one-coloured) onions fried in olive oil, served with fleur de sel and Fitou, often enough. Our standard, we bought the best ever, a Fitou "Privilège" (in a Burgundy-like bottle) from Domaine de la Rochelierre at the Independent or Small Producer´s Wine Fair. We walked out wavering, yes indeed, our Bar Tabac team had invited us, say no more! But such a nice informal, non-snobbish atmosphere with lovely people. I must look up your Phaedra, nevertheless, and see if I can get it for myself, here. It does happen, that we don´t finish bottles and end up having half or 1/4 of something different, each. My ex-husband used to love very dry Italian wines but my taste is and has always been for the sunnier side of the valley even if bottled.
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2014-07-11 07:50 pm (UTC)
Ooh, pinot noir! That would have worked! I've never got the taste for chilling it, though straight from te cellar is good. Alsace is quite expensive here, or we would drink more of it.
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[User Picture]From: cmcmck
2014-07-10 04:38 pm (UTC)
Love the sound of that tagliatelli but that may be because I love gorgonzola and walnuts as a combo. There's a pizzeria in Siena that does a gorgonzola and walnut pizza! :o)
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2014-07-11 07:44 pm (UTC)
It's a classic, and rightly so! I'm so glad I thought to add the walnuts...
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[User Picture]From: weegoddess
2014-07-19 08:49 pm (UTC)
I love reading your thoughts on wine, even if I still have no idea what to bring for you when we visit, except that we both like to see sheep on the label.

Somewhat tangential; you and R suggested online chatting for easier periodic catching up. I'd love to do this. Do you Skype?
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[User Picture]From: shewhomust
2014-07-20 05:28 pm (UTC)
I'd been wondering how your 'finding out more about wine' project was going!

And I don't Skype, but Roger probably would, given encouragement - I'll tell him you asked!
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