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30 Second Wine Tasting Tip:
Erin go Wine

Shamrocks Reader Robert R. asks a question that I've been hearing a lot as St. Patrick's Day draws near with its traditional Irish repast: "What type of wine would I serve with a corned beef and cabbage dinner?"

Bearing in mind that the Irish are not really a wine-drinking culture, a glass of dark Guinness would probably be the most natural choice.

But this raises a broader question for those of us who really enjoy wine and matching it with food: What do you do when you want to choose a wine to match a dish that doesn't traditionally go with wine?

In the case of corned beef, the challenge is similar to that of matching wine with ham: It's a strong-flavored meat and very salty. For me, this calls for something fresh and fruity and not piercingly dry: A Beaujolais or Dolcetto, if you want a red, or something on the richer side, maybe an Alsatian white or Loire Chenin Blanc if you prefer a white.

To test this theory, I made corned beef and cabbage by a very traditional method over the weekend, simmering a store-bought "corned" brisket for hours and adding cabbage wedges and potatoes toward the end of cooking, and serving it all with mustard and horseradish on the side. An Alsatian Pinot Gris with a bit of sweetness in its full-bodied flavor worked just fine, as I report in the tasting note below.

As a bit of lagniappe for St. Paddy's, here's a non-wine-related link to a Website where you'll find a songbook full of Irish music that you can play on your computer: Midi and RealAudio sound files and links to Irish bands on the Irish Music Page,

Have you tried matching wines with dishes that don't usually go with wine? Tell me about it in an E-mail message to, and I'll save some of the best examples for future columns. I regret that the growing circulation of the "Wine Advisor" makes it difficult for me to reply individually to every note, but I'll answer as many as I can; and please be assured that all your input helps me do a better job of writing about wine. Please feel free to get in touch if you'd like to comment on our topics and tasting notes, suggest a topic for a future bulletin, or just talk about wine.

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30 Second Tasting Notes
An Alsatian match for corned beef
Pierre Sparr Pierre Sparr 1998 Alsace Pinot Gris Réserve ($12.99)
Clear gold, with pleasant melon and grapefruit aromas. Soft citric flavors, ruby-red grapefruit with slight, honeyed sweetness, full-bodied but a bit short on acid balance. U.S. importer: W. J. Deutsch & Sons Ltd., Harrison, N.Y. (March 12, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: The wine's light sweetness and soft texture becomes a plus when it's used to wash down the salty, spicy flavors of corned beef and cabbage.

30 Second Wine Link
Joseph Drouhin is a century-old and well-respected wine shipping firm in Beaune, the center of Burgundy in France. Its Website,, ought to serve as a model to wineries and other commercial wine businesses, demonstrating how much more of a contribution it's possible to make than merely putting advertising on the 'net: This is a substantial, useful and surprisingly online textbook about Burgundy, well-organized and readable. For a virtual tour of Burgundy's complicated geography, click on "Drouhin Wines" and then follow the links to each specific appellation. This is a fine site, well worth an hour's visit.

Wine Lovers' Voting Booth
We turn to humor (we think!) with this week's online wine survey topic, in which we place our tongues firmly in cheek to examine the odd behaviors that people begin to show when their interest in wine appreciation evolves gradually from mildly interested to intensely involved and finally to ... wine fanaticism! So, in an effort to come up with a clinical description of people for whom wine has moved from a hobby to a passion, The Wine Lovers' Voting Booth asks: "How can you tell if you have become fanatical about wine?"

The ballot is larger than usual, and we hope you will get a chuckle out of the choices we've selected. You may choose up to three, and there's an "other" option if you can think of a really good, humorous "symptom" that we've overlooked. We hope you'll join in the fun. Click to

The week's 30 Second Advertising Partner

Wine Rack

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30 Second Administrivia
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

More time for wine?
You don't need to wait for Mondays to read about wine! Drop in any time on Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page, where we add new tasting notes several times each week and frequently expand our selection of wine-appreciation articles, tips and tutorials.

If you'd like to talk about wine online with fellow wine enthusiasts around the world, we'd be delighted to have you visit the interactive forums in our Wine Lovers' Discussion Group. If you're from another part of the world and don't feel entirely comfortable chatting in English, visit our International Forum and introduce yourself in the language of your choice.

Vol. 2, No. 8, March 13, 2000

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