Escaping the "wine rut"
And yet, like most of us, I sometimes get into a "wine rut," returning day after day to wines made from favorite varieties or regions. Another Cabernet Sauvignon tonight? Oh, boy! (Yawn.)
So from time to time I make a conscious effort to break out of the rut by choosing a wine that's distinctly different. Try a wine from an unfamiliar producer, open a bottle from a less-traveled region, or maybe best of all, from the standpoint of your personal wine education, get to know an offbeat grape variety.
Last night, to accompany a Greek-inspired dinner, I opened two warm and approachable reds from the Mediterranean: A modest Greek wine made from the Agiorgitiko ("St. George") grape, and a bargain favorite from the heel of Italy's boot that's a blend of Negroamaro and Malvasia Nero.
Taurino 1995 Notarpanaro Rosso del Salento ($9.99)
WEB LINKS: The importer has a fact sheet on Notarpanaro at http://www.winebow.com/shortdet.asp?ID=314.
Achiaia Clauss 1998 Nemea ($8.99)
FOOD MATCH: Both wines went very well with a Greek-style dish of beef and artichoke hearts over orzo pasta in an egg-lemon sauce. This dish could have been challenging because of the tangy lemon flavors and because both artichokes and eggs are allegedly "difficult" wine companions; as it turned out, however, the bite-size chunks of sirloin and the herbal notes of oregano in the sauce made the match work in spite of these potential handicaps.
WINERY NOTE: I was unable to find a winery or importer Website, but a wine merchant's site offered the following bit of historical information about the winery: "Achaia Clauss (pronounced Ah-hi-ya Clauss) was founded in 1854 by Gustav Clauss. A native of Bavaria, Clauss was captivated by the beauty of the countryside surrounding the coastal town of Patras. With passion, wisdom and creativity, Clauss transformed the nearby hilltops into a
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Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2001