Cheapskate – September ’08
September 10, 2008 by Charles Armstrong
The strength of a wine is a difficult thing to gauge. When you can really taste the booze, it usually means you reached for the wrong bottle, but a wine without the alcohol kick tastes like grape juice. It’s a tough line to walk; nobody wants a boozy wine, but then again, nobody wants to not feel that warm contentedness when your dinner guests decide to make a miniature golf course out of your kitchenware.
This month’s selections from the cheapish realm happily do the trick, I should say, and not a single one reminded me of that Night Train I once smelled.
This month we will be mapping our wines onto secondary characters from the Super Mario Bros. canon. Secondary characters include everyone except Mario and Luigi. I realize some of you would potentially classify Luigi as a secondary character, but let me ask you this: who did you always play as in Super Mario. 2? That’s what I thought.
Rainier Red (No Vintage)
Washington Hills Winery, Mattawa, WA
This is a red wine. It is red and that is all there is to it. Would you believe me if I told you it’s got a slightly fruity beginning and a tanniny finish with a little bit of earth? What if I said the swallow had some pronounced acid notes? Because all of those things are true. I’m not trying to say it’s bad (it’s not, it’s pretty good), but it is exactly what you’d expect a red wine to taste like. Drink it with a red-sauce pasta or a steak dish, just like that guy in college told you to do with red wines. (You know who I mean, that guy with the turtle neck.)
Equivalent Secondary Super Mario Bros. Character: Red Koopa Troopa
Yep, it’s omnipresent and menial, but fairly memorable and certainly well established. What should you do with it? Just jump on it/drink it.
2006 Fumé Blanc
The Hogue Cellars, Ltd., Prosser, WA
The Hogue Fumé Blanc is light, bright, and a little forgettable. That’s not to say it’s bad, but I really had to reread my notebook when trying to describe its taste. There’s a good deal of fruit up front, coupled with even more acid, as well as sharp tannins that I would not have expected from a Fumé or Sauvignon Blanc. All the flavors mingle in and out, giving the wine no particularly strong characteristic, but rather, serving as a very well-rounded light white. Drink it with your first course or on its own, but don’t worry about saving the label.
Equivalent Secondary Super Mario Bros. Character: Birdo
Remember Birdo? It was that dinosaur thing that shot eggs at you in Super Mario Bros. 2. While an integral and cool part of the game/your dinner experience, once you’ve had your first encounter, you’re libel to forget about it entirely.
A Riesling is a rare treat. You don’t usually drink these (unless you’re some European weirdo); so when they do pop up, it tends to create it’s own special occasion. The Columbia Riesling does not disappoint. Sweet and incredibly fruity throughout, the wine balances acid with just a hint of greens. While most people think of a Riesling as a dessert wine, allow me to suggest it as a perfect cocktail hour type drink. Before the bad weather takes completely over, I’d make a point to drink a cool glass of this vintage as the last of the clear sunsets goes down.
Equivalent Secondary Super Mario Bros. Character: Princess Peach
So sweet. So absolutely cute and sweet that she is, in many ways, a caricature of herself. She’s the damsel in distress/dessert wine that everyone is familiar with, and that only makes you fonder of her.
Red Diamond Winery, Paterson, WA
A Shiraz is not something I would assume to be fruity, but the nose and swallow of the Red Diamond would seem to run contrary to that assumption. (Side Note: What is it about the folks at Red Diamond and fruity wines? If there were a measurement of fruitiness/expected fruitiness for varietals, Red Diamond would consistently be on top.) It’s also got a good strong heavy tannin finish that makes this a perfect pair with a spicy steak; like maybe some sort of steak you’d eat at Chili’s. Not that I’d recommend that. Eating at Chili’s I mean. Look, just drink the wine.
Equivalent Secondary Super Mario Bros. Character: Yoshi
Strong, bold, powerful, and yet, a little fruity. The wine makes an excellent ally in the face of those spiky things Mario can’t usually jump on/dishes that are too peppery for a Cabernet.
Chateau Ste Michelle
2007 Dry Rosé
Chateau Ste Michelle, Woodinville, WA
I’ll admit it, I have no idea what to do with a rosé. Is it like a champagne/celebratory type deal, or a pre-dinner wine, or something you’d have with a fish plate, or what? However, as confusing as I find it, I find it equally delicious. The Chateau Ste. Michelle Rosé was fruitier than I might have guessed (especially since it says “dry” right on the bottle), but some interesting acid tones appeared on the swallow, mixing with the light carbonation to make a Pop Rock-esque sensation in the back of my mouth. There was a little bit of tannin here and there, and some interesting green notes on the nose, but otherwise dry fruit is the name of the game.
Oh! I just figured it out. Drink this with heavy appetizers like prosciutto baguettes and/or salmony things. Delicious.
Equivalent Secondary Super Mario Bros. Character: That Guy in the Cloud That Throws the Spiky Things
What is that guy? Is he a Koopa Troopa without the shell? He is like a bigger version of one of the hammer brothers? I may never figure this out, but he’s totally cool and seems nice enough, if you can get past the spiky guys/tannins.