Sunday, September 24, 2006

God bless the French

The wine that started it all.

Today I had the chance to visit Kimbrough Liquors (probably my favorite place to get wine, but I haven't had a chance to try any of the Millington or Cordova outlets, so this could always change; let's just say Kimbrough is my Midtown go-to) and lo and behold, what did I see but a bottle of Réserve Perrin, the little French ditty that sparked my wine interest back in March.

Back in February, I attended a weeklong HTML and web design seminar for work, and I carpooled to Germantown every day with my art director. As a way of thanking me for driving him to the classes every day, he gave me a bottle of the aforementioned Réserve Perrin, which I, completely ignorant of all things wine, stuck in the fridge and ignored until I could figure out a good time to drink it.

I had tried wine on several occasions prior to my Réserve Perrin experience. I recall quaffing some homemade peach wine at my parents' house (homemade in the sense that whoever they bought it from had made it; to my knowledge my parents have never made any alcoholic beverages on purpose, though I recall drinking some completely fermented orange juice from their fridge many years ago and spitting it into the sink, thinking it was rubbing alcohol) and trying to choke down some Erik the Red for New Year's Eve. I also remember trying a fruity blush wine at a wedding of one of my former friends/co-workers, but I ended up giving my leftovers to Cox, I think. So, never having had a positive wine experience, I let the Réserve Perrin languish in the fridge for a month.

Then it was Phil's birthday, and I wanted to bring him a bottle of whiskey to drown his newly 26-year-old cares after work. But at 11:30 on a Saturday night in this city, you're SOL if you haven't stocked up on booze for Sunday. So I reluctantly brought the bottle of Réserve Perrin over to Phil's apartment so we could "celebrate" his milestone in a drunken stupor, were we to actually make it through the bottle.

At the time, I was expecting an overpowering aroma and taste from the wine. But I was surprised when it was extremely mild, to the point of being understated. I made my way through several coffee cups, and when the warmth began to spread through me and my words and laughter came more easily and with a hint of true, basic joy, something in me clicked. I could get used to this, I thought. And the next morning I didn't feel a single trace of any drink from the night before.

For someone who routinely has violent reactions the day following moderate drinking, this was a revelation.

Ever since, I've decided I'd give this wine-drinkin' thing a go. I've had lots of misses and a few hits.

Tonight I got the chance to revisit the Réserve Perrin, when I spotted it at Kimbrough, where it's probably been sitting for months while I occupied myself with the California offerings.

The Réserve Perrin is extremely dry, with some strong spice notes that fade into black cherry and other berry flavors as time passes. Very complex. A little meaty on the finish. It's fantastic with cheese (as are most deep reds, in my estimation). I'm finding that this wine is absolutely beautiful on its second and third glass. And I'm not just saying that because I'm tipsy; the complexity of the flavor, once you're sort of acclimated to the spice, really comes alive. I wish I had a big fat steak to eat with a glass of this stuff. It seems decadent, though restrained in a lot of ways. Very versatile. The bottle says it'd be good with Mediterranean cooking. I'm imagining some chicken parmigiana would be outstanding with this wine.

Let us count this among my all-time favorites. For sentimental reasons, sure, but for its sheer force of flavor and complexity. Magnifique!


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