Grenache for Winter Comfort

Here’s something plebeian to make for dinner; stuffed cabbage leaves…stuffed with ground beef and rice and seasoned with oregano, salt and nutmeg, slow-cooked in tomato sauce. It was the nutmeg that called out for a southern Rhone red. I don’t know why, but it was perfect. Halos of Jupiter, 2015, the orange rimmed age gave her velvety tannins with the opulent aromas of black plum, raspberries, rosemary and black tea. Maybe it was the nutmeg or maybe it was that Grenache is a little plebeian, too. Comfort wines pair well with comfort foods.

Branaire-Ducru, 1961, My Birthday Wine

Time is a funny thing, a concept created by humans as a way to organize the world around them. Sometimes time stops while we are still living.

This afternoon I stood in a wet cedar forest. I could feel the soft, spongy moss beneath my feet. I could smell the cedar trees. I could also smell the wild violets that were growing beside the myrtles. And I could taste the tart, wild strawberries. I wasn’t really in a forest. I was transported there through my sense of smell.

I was born in 1961 in a hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. That same year, someone in the vineyards of Branaire-Ducru in St. Julien Bordeaux near La Foret des Landes was picking grapes, Cabernet mostly, maybe some Merlot to be made into wine.

Today, after 60 years of aging, I opened that wine and it was like time stood still, maybe even stopped existing. For a few minutes I was living outside of time. I could smell the forest. I could smell the fruit. It was still tart. I could smell flowers and something savory, like leather and bayberry and nuts. There was so much to this wine, yet, everything was subtle and delicate, complex and integrated.

Wine, when it speaks to us, is beautiful. But when wine transcends time and transports us to another place it is sublime.