Self-Medicating with Shiraz

What. I'm developing my palette.

I promised a list of my favorite affordable, drinkable wines, but, April Fool's, I'm posting in two parts. Sue me. I thought I should put forth a disclaimer on exactly what kind of expert I am. I'm not.

I started drinking wine when Carrie and the girls began drinking cosmopolitans on Sex and the City. Hubby worked a lot of overtime and nights so Friday evenings were my night to put the kids to bed early, pop some popcorn, and have a glass of wine. I cried when the series ended. They were my friends and I didn't want to let them go.

Fortunately, my bottled friends stayed with me and they have grown as interesting (and been more faithful) through the ensuing years. At one time, my youngest sister worked with a professional (certified? qualified?) sommelier. (Not from Somalia, but someone who knows about wines.)

She and I sat down one night and started talking wines and our middle sister nearly went into a coma. Soooo pretentious, in her opinion, but the most interesting piece of information I took away from that conversation was the way in which wine classification differs between Old World and New World producers. California and BC wines, for instance, are labeled with the type of grape. There is a growing trend toward identifying the grape on European wines, but traditionally, they're labeled by region. Here in North America, we think of the grape as having certain characteristics that will produce a full-bodied Merlot; Europeans think of a type of soil and climate that will produce a full-bodied Bordeaux.

I've also learned that when it comes to reds, bottle-time matters. I bought a case of reds from Tin Horn Creek in the fall. (Long story. See Corb Lund post to follow at some point in future.) I told a friend about my purchase. She grew up in the Okanagan working for wineries and said, "It will be interesting to open those bottles over time and see how they mature." I laughed. They weren't going to age much over twelve weeks.

In my sophistication, I habitually buy Whatever Looks Interesting For About Ten Dollars. (Note: My brother-in-law cautioned me not to buy Italian. "They don't export the good stuff.") So I began exploring Spanish wines and found myself going back for the same blue label. They were all 04 & 05. I liked the 04 the best, but settled for 05 and freaked out when the liquor store replenished their stock and only had 08. I noticed it tasted green compared to the other years. I'm now turning into one of those whack-jobs who picks up wine to keep it.

I'm also one of those whack-jobs who likes red in winter, white in summer and will be breaking out the rosé as the pleasant spring days pull me out to the garden. List of favorites to follow tomorrow. You can buy it on your way home from work.