It’s Wine Blogging Wednesday again, and this time the topic is…comfort wines. “Comfort” wines. Curious, because with the exception of bad wines or unready Barolos, pretty much every wine is a comfort wine to me. That’s what wine is: Liquid comfort.
Each wine is comforting in its own way: After work in a Sacramento summer where temperatures can reach 110 degrees, an ice cold, slightly fizzy vinho verde from Portugal just can’t be beat (especially at $5 a bottle!).
Sometimes I like to wallow in my wines, and for that I really require something more substantial, like the 2005 Riparosso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo I had last week. Other times I want a glass that makes me feel American – something to give me instant satisfaction – and then only a Lodi or Sierra Foothills Zinfandel will do.
And then there is Rioja. Rioja is my personal triumph. No one told me that Rioja was one of the world’s fine wines when I was a young man taking his first nervous and self-conscious steps toward this daunting world of wine. No, all I knew then was to look for something European, and something old. When I saw the Spanish wines, with their antiquated labels festooned with badges from the 1872 Paris Exposition or somesuch. And that fancy gold wire netting! I was hooked.
And when I opened the bottles, I was never disappointed. Never have been, even all these years later. Rioja, and especially the Rioja Reservas and the rare Grand Reservas, offerÂ balance in the glass that I find exceeded by only a precious few rivals. Perhaps a ready Barolo or a mature Chateauneuf du Pape. So what better wine to turn to than a Rioja for this “comfort” challenge?
Life has been uncertain these days. This sullen economy we are in has only worsened the final twitchings of my dying industry, and a job held today may be gone on the morrow. So why not hoist a glass? Lately I am finding myself seeking the company of MFK Fisher and Brillat-Savarin and AJ McClane – all with a glass of Rioja in hand, with Holly nearby andÂ the cats lurking somewhere close.
Last night it was the 2000 Herederos del Marques de Riscal Riojo Reserva, which is true to type. This wine is neither showy nor wan, neither fruity nor felty. It is a friend to sit with you and Fisher and Holly and the cats. It lets you do the thinking; all it does is listen.
UPDATE: Joe over at Wine Life Today has posted the round up of WBW #43, and it is a fun survey of what makes a “comfort wine.”Â This entry is my favorite.