I am always blown away by Texans' devotion to Cabernet, Zinfandel and Merlot. Even though these can be wonderful wines, they only appeal to me in the cooler months. Of which there are four in an ideal year in my city. This year I am on a mission to find light, complex red varietals that don't make me sweat.
I am hot-blooded by nature. A/C is cranked most of the year, I built a kegerator to keep up with my unquenchable thirst, and I have to live real close to a swimmin' hole to put out my eternal flame. So big reds and I don't jive well here in Austin.
Luckily there is a plethora of light reds that are delicious and dynamic. Generally speaking, they are lower in alcohol and have less tannin, which translates to easy food pairings. Pinot Noir is the noble rock star in this category, and its oft-overlooked sister Gamay. But there are others!
Schiavo, Nerello Mascalese, Chinon, Frappato, Zweigelt, St. Laurent, Blauburgunder, Dolcetto, Nero d'Avola, etc. This is my new direction. Maybe the scant Barbera, Lagrein, Sangiovese or Montepulciano. But I think folks can spend many years just wrapping their heads around those.
Just Pinot Noir alone is worth a lifetime of devotion. I had a freakin' religious experience in Gevrey Chambertin tasting Lignier-Michelot's 2007 Clos de la Roche! I mean... ZANG! Knocked my shoes clean off. I couldn't see or walk straight after that sip. I was gushing and blushing, like my first kiss.
In my opinion, well-made, feminine reds are so appealing with their sexy strawberries, cranberries, minerals, and silkiness. Light on their feet like a ballerina. My hand is magnetized to the glass.. Gulpability is a word I would like to employ here. I would beer bong a Cru Beaujolais right now to prove my point.
Folks that need big, structured, oaky, tanninbaums might not understand. In fact, I bet most readers have already dismissed this post as pansy ass nonsense. So be it. This is why Baskin Robbins has 32 flavors or whatever. Different strokes....
Let me restate, when it is a million degrees outside this summer and you're sitting at your favorite restaurant, be adventurous! Go for one of those weird grapes you have never heard of. It kills me that sushi bars in Austin are stocked with big reds. As a society we need to recognize these endangered varietals and increase demand. There is a universe of variety beyond Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, Pepsi and Coke, black and white. Taste the rainbow!