If you’re like me and (let’s be honest) you turn your nose up at white wine — listen up! I’m about to broaden your horizons.
So we take these wine classes and I’m thinking “Yeah, I want to learn all I can, but nobody is going to turn me into a white wine drinker.” Then I learned about food and wine pairing. And things changed. A little. Now I understand why my favorite big bad Zen really doesn’t taste so great with Chicken Alfredo. Or how spicy food goes so well with a nice Riesling. (Riesling? Are you kidding me? Riesling is sweet — I don’t do sweet wine!)
Nevertheless, the number of bottles of red wine on our rack still outnumbered reds at least 4 to 1. If not more. But then one day…
Last summer I was sitting outside in a small family restaurant in Barcelona and it was hot out. I was sweating. I wanted something cold to drink and everyone around me had chilled glasses of white wine. OK, I’ll give it a shot. I asked for what everyone else was having. I had no idea what it was, but it was calling my name.
I took one sip and signaled the waiter. Hey! What is this? He trotted into the bar and brought out the bottle. Verdejo. I was in love.
I have to say that I’m not a huge fan of just any white. I’m picky. Not because I’m a white wine snob, but because there are only certain flavors in white wine that appeal to me. And Verdejo has it all. It can be either light or fairly full bodied, crisp and clean, but it doesn’t bite back, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, it tastes a little like peaches (don’t let your imagination run away with you or that will sound awful — it’s not peach juice, it’s just really good, refreshing, but not sweet).
And a few weeks ago my love affair with Verdejo really kicked into gear.
It’s funny how you make a reputation for yourself without even realizing it. A couple of months ago we went to a family celebration lunch with friends, and Nando’s father (who is a restauranteur) turned to me — after having only been around me once before — and said “You prefer red wine, yes?” Yes! And a really nice bottle of Ribera del Duero was quickly brought for my approval. I grinned big and nodded — and then noticed that at the other end of the table they were opening a bottle of white… just as two huge platters of the famous Red Shrimp of Denia were being delivered to our table.
I yelled across the table (I’m really shy and retiring) “What’s that? Why are you drinking that? Why did you order this red, if we’re having shrimp? And… can I taste that?” Fernando senior looked at me in surprise, “But I thought you only drink red.” ugh. After only 1 meeting I had been pegged as one of “those.”
I grinned and explained that although, in general, I prefer red, that of course I enjoy a nice white wine with food. And especially with the special shrimp that we were about to dive into. “Oh! Well, then you must try this. It’s Verdejo. From Rueda. One of our favorites.”
I don’t know what happened to that bottle of red wine. But I do know that between us, at least 5 good bottles of Verdejo disappeared that afternoon. And I’m hooked.