There is nothing like the first hint of spring in the Northwest, a place where winter is seven long months of rain and wind. And a few days after our last bout of snowy weather, there has finally been a hint of it. At work, there has been warm sunlight streaming in through the windows, the smell of bark mulch around the trees, and spring flowers have been creeping up in the frosty air. At home, the sun is staying out until almost 7:30 p.m. and the apartment has been filled with glowing early morning and afternoon light – purple and red sunsets over Mount Rainier. We have yellow daffodils in the bedroom and yellow, orange, and red tulips in the living room.
If you’re from the Northwest, you’ll know what that first warm batch of sunlight feels like on your skin, after almost seven months of rain and grey skies. And the sun brings on ideas of the summer, of warm evenings spent on the porch drinking beer and wine and lemony cocktails. We may not have a porch, and the sunshine may still be maxing out at 53 degrees, but it has got me in the mood for summer entertaining.
Though I have two unopened bottles of French rose in my wine rack, I haven’t quite graduated from my warm reds. I guess I’m waiting for some kind of weather miracle (like a 60 degree day in March?) to actually pull out the corks and drink them with a light appetizer. And so while we wait for the spring to kick off Pinot, white wine, and Rose season…
The other night I came home to homemade pizzas and two wine glasses sitting out on the table, meaning Ben had gone rogue and picked out a wine by himself (he’s rarely allowed this privilege). There is little better than being able to come home after a long day at work and have dinner in the oven, the house clean, and a bottle of wine being aerated for you. I suppose that’s probably why men in the 50s were so reluctant to let their wives work – it’s really a paradise that everyone should get to experience. Ben is a fan of big, bold, and, well, Italian wines, so it was no surprise that he picked out an Italian blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sangiovese. The wine, a 2009 Vitiano Rosso (~$10-11), was a beautiful dark red. The bouquet was very fruit forward with quite a bit of spice (I noted a lot of pepper). This blend, without the Sangiovese to blend it, would have been far too sweet, as the cabernet, which dominated the front of the sip, was very juicy and ripe (almost jammy) with cherry. The end, however, added dimension to the cabernet and merlot components of the wine, adding the rustic quality so common to Italian wines. The wine verged on being too heavy, but when served with our two pizzas (a mushroom and red onion pizza, and a warm cheese pizza with mixed greens piled on top), it was perfect. Suggested as a pizza-wine in the store, I think it was perfect for the meal and the price. Try it with any red-sauce and pasta and gourmet pizza or calzones.
Ben had me experiment with a blind tasting when he served the wine. I’ve never done a blind tasting before and I certainly didn’t pass this with flying colors, but it was very eye opening. I first smelled the wine and picked up the bold flavors with a hint of spice. It was immediately evident that the wine was not French, as it was too big and bold. I guessed that it was American, as the heavy fruit from the Cabernet was so powerful that I suspected it had to be New World. However, the spice at the end of the sip made it evident that the wine was a blend (I’d never tasted a varietal with that range before) and I guessed that very quickly. I was spot on in guessing Cabernet, but missed the Merlot and Sangiovese components. I understand that blind tastings are difficult when you purchase your own wine, but I recommend that if you ever have the opportunity,