Wine is a great hobby for anyone who has a knack for recalling stats: the rankings of players or sports teams, the prices of stocks. If you can remember the best vintages, you’re likely to have more terrific wine experiences. But what if you’re like me and love wine but have a lousy memory? We’re here to help with that—and a lot more—in this special wine issue.
Executive wine editor Lettie Teague, senior editor Ray Isle and editorial assistant Megan Krigbaum set out to find widely available, inexpensive wines that are good year after year, not just in certain vintages—no great memory for dates required. The result of that inquiry is the most useful wine guide we have ever published: "50 Wines You Can Always Trust"—most under $20.
For everyday dishes to go with wine, we turned to Jeff Smith, who not only has the distinction of producing a spectacular Napa Cabernet but also of being the cook in his household. Among his eclectic and inspired pairings, my favorite is soy sauce-glazed baby back ribs with Drinkward Peschon Cabernet. We also headed to Chile to celebrate Easter with the astonishingly accomplished Huneeus family of Veramonte winery. The herb-crusted lamb that Valeria Huneeus prepared was a perfect showcase for her husband Agustin’s remarkable, affordable Primus, a red blend. Shelley and Greg Lindgren, who are food, wine and cocktail visionaries on the San Francisco scene, shared their wisdom about pairing pasta with little-known grapes from Southern Italy, such as Falanghina and Gaglioppo. F&W’s Grace Parisi experimented to find the best possible way to braise chicken in wine. We had a different variation every day for a week, and it was fascinating to see how the different wines changed the character of the recipe. I might not remember whether 1982 was a good vintage in the Loire, but I won’t forget how much I loved those chicken thighs braised in Sauvignon Blanc.
Where I’m Coming From
Notes from my recent trip to Atlanta.
Had a delicious fettuccine tossed with Marsala wine sauce and twirled into a beehive shape, accompanied by juicy, crispy little chicken livers. Details 1029 Edgewood Ave. NE; 404-577-4358.
Kicked off my meal with a killer Bloody Mary (served with a house-pickled onion), followed by a roasted chicken breast and the most divinely creamy Anson Mills grits. Details 2277 Peachtree Rd. NE; 404-355-0321.
Extraordinary 10-course tasting menu paired with an amazing array of fantastic Greek wines. Details 3085 Piedmont Rd. NE; 404-262-0702.
How much are you likely to spend on a bottle of everyday wine? What’s the most you’ve ever spent on wine, and was the splurge worth it?