Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Last week some friends gave us a bottle of Red Guitar, a Spanish blend of tempranillo (55%) and garnacha (45%). To get an idea of what foods to serve it with, I consulted Google. Soon, food pairings forgotten, I was reveling in wine tasters’ lyricism.

My favorite moment in Sideways is when Paul Giamatti’s character, Miles Raymond, demonstrates the art of wine evaluation: “... passion fruit... [puts hand up to ear] ... and, oh, there's just like the faintest soup├žon of like asparagus and just a flutter of a, like a, nutty Edam cheese...”

Mr. Raymond had nothing on the Red Guitar poetasters.

The wine I was about to pour smelled of “luscious cherries with a hint of sweet tobacco and wood smoke,” or perhaps “cherries and red berries, underscored with some subtle earth, chocolate and juniper berries,” though one writer suggested “smoky, musty cellar” and another approvingly likened it to “menthol and road tar” (yum!).

Take a sip. What do you taste? “Sour cherry and grape, a bit candy-like, with dried fruit notes and hints of spicy vanilla”? “Very tart cherry, briary almost like tree bark”? “Cranberries giv[ing] way quickly to bright jammy cherry fruit cola”? “Blueberry syrup on pancakes”? “Plum, graphite and tomato”? “Chocolate”?

As T.S. Eliot noted in “Burnt Norton,”

Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still.

Hey, Red Guitar is a delightful, inexpensive, fruity red wine. It goes well with chili and corn chips, hamburgers, barbecued chicken.

It's OK to drink it in silence.

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