“P” is for Portugal, and Other Wine Fun

I love these corks.

From time to time, I get boxes of wine that just show up, unannounced. As opposed to the ones that I have ordered, and know are en route. That happened again recently, and I was delighted by the contents. 

Yes, they are already empty. Trust me when I tell you the rosé is pink!

We sampled three “Locations” wines alongside grilled chicken and London broil. It was a good food night, too. These “Locations” wines are made from blends of grapes representing the style of a particular country (location) and have an iconic letter label, reminiscent of a bumper sticker. Starting with the “F,” French Rosé, fermented in stainless steel and 100% Grenache, we were in for a treat.  This rosé is crisp, minerally, and evokes a summer day sitting in a Parisian cafe. Guacamole was the pairing of choice (read: the only appetizer in the house), and they worked perfectly together.

From there we moved to “I” (Italy) with a blend from Puglia and Piemonte. It sounds like a strange combination, and in a way it is, but it is an easy drinking wine. I found it to be slightly oakey for my tastes. The last wine of the evening came from Portugal (“P”), and was also my favorite. Full-bodied and in balance, I would not have guessed it to be 15% alcohol. The wine is rich and full of dark fruit flavors, and despite its high alcohol content, or maybe because of it, it is quite a yummy wine and works well with grilled meat.

Bottom line: these wines are perfectly tasty wines, evoking the flavors of where they come from. While a purist may poo-poo the blends from different regions, they do taste good (that is still what counts, right?) At around $20/bottle they are a good value, too.

The instigator of “two-glass-gate”.

The following day, I met up with a friend and headed to the Simply Italian wine tasting at The Biltmore in Coral Gables. It was an afternoon of sipping, swirling, and much to the chagrin of my liver, no spitting. We arrived to find the Grand Ballroom set up with four rows of tables, each filled with wine.

Some of the winery representatives were there looking for an importer to bring their wines to the US. Clearly, I couldn’t help with that. Or could I? We tasted one red wine, made from Cabernet and Merlot, made in the style of Amarone, by drying the grapes. It was outstanding and far less expensive than Amarone.

My favorite prosecco of the day – and I had a large sample pool.

As I turned around looking for my friend, I noticed someone wearing an “importer” badge. (The color coded badges also indicated that I was a media person, while I noticed the importer had a blue badge.) Forgetting niceties like introducing myself, I led with “You must be looking for new wines to bring in, right?” It was either my innate charm or the fact that he could mock my wine-soaked teeth, which made him humor me and meet the winemaker.  So, I may be a wine matchmaker.

We sipped prosecco (and more prosecco, and even one vintage prosecco), white wines and red wines. As we walked in, I started talking to the lovely woman at the Banfi table. She flat out refused to pour my red wine into my white wine glass, and boldly insisted that we each get another glass so our whites don’t get muddled throughout the afternoon. Smart, smart woman. We quickly remedied our one-glass situation.

Meandering our way through the tasting, I could reflect on what a glorious day it was to be tasting a room full of Italian wines, with a good friend. I also acknowledged that I am extremely happy we have Uber and Lyft in South Florida. (Now, it is time for Key West would get on the bandwagon.) Grab yourself some prosecco, because, well, why not? Enjoy La Dolce Vita.