I really love Catavino – it’s such an informative and innovative source of information on Spanish & Portuguese wines. The food of the region is key, but it’s just as vital to know about the great wines available too. This is the place to find out!
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Wine Blog Wednesday #43 – Comfort Wines

Cava and Paella

At this moment, Gabriella and I are traveling in Oporto, Portugal. Some may be jealous, muttering under their breath that we have a “rough life”, as we bound from one location to the next; but truth be told, it’s harder work than you think. Just to give context, we just returned from seven days touring La Rioja last week, only to work through our three day break before we head out to Oporto tomorrow. We’ll be there for five days, arriving back this Sunday night before we get up bright and early Monday morning and head to Alimentaria (a food and wine fair) for another four days. So basically, we’re saying that we will have spent three straight weeks on our feet, tasting wine, analyzing wine and talking about wine. In truth, we love it, but in reality, relaxing with a bottle of wine can seem exhausting to us at times. So when Joel stated that the theme of WBW #43 would be Comfort Wines and to “choose a wine, any wine, that you love to unwind to and tell us about not only the wine but what makes the experience special and relaxing for you!”, it took me some time to think of what I wanted to write.

In the end, I decided not to pick a wine, or even two wines, but to suggest that the greatest comfort wines I hold dear to my heart are the ones that are simple, straightforward and don’t demand a lot of my palate or mind. I love wines that are just good. This may seem too obvious, but let me explain. I don’t know how many times I’ve tasted wines with a winemaker, or fellow geek, where the statement “this is a serious wine” came up. What this means is that the wine requires time to open, aging to mature or contains flavors so complex that you can end up at the bottom of the bottle still trying to figure out what it was you just consumed. Wines like this require thought, appreciation, dialog, debate and time. My comfort wine doesn’t.

My comfort wine is a bottle that I open five minutes before dinner, drink from any size/shape of glass and is consumed while curled up with Gabriella, while watching a movie, a sunset or a grill sizzle in front of us. My comfort wine is red, white, sparkles, is fortified, and sometimes, even sweet. My comfort wine usually costs under ten of whatever currency the country uses I am currently residing in: $10, 10euros, 10pounds…

Another unique aspect of my comfort wine is its ability to go with food. My comfort wine matches almost every dish its served with, and if it doesn’t, it still tastes good. Note too that even in poor matches it also does not ruin my appreciation of the food we’re consuming.

I keep my comfort wine(s) around in the case of a sudden need for comfort is needed. Sometimes a bottle sits in my fridge and sometimes just on the desk in front of me. Sometimes it’s half full, and sometimes it’s been open a wee bit too long. My comfort wine still tastes pretty good.

I guess what I really want to say is that wine is comfort for me. It has the power to calm a rough day, illicit fiery debate and spice up a simple dinner with my lovely wife. I love complex and “serious wines”, many of which are favorites and regular guests at our dinner table, but they are not my comfort wines. They are my dialog wines!

For me it’s all about the need not to think or analyze, unless I want to. My comfort wine is a state of mind.

Cheers,

Ryan

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  • Erika

    What a lovely post, Ryan. And akin to what I said in my WBW as well, comfort wines shouldn't make you think!

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  • http://www.StrumErika.com Erika

    What a lovely post, Ryan. And akin to what I said in my WBW as well, comfort wines shouldn’t make you think!

  • amy

    Lovely post. I understand what you mean about it being a state of mind. But also in response to Erika's comment, I sometimes find comfort in those things that make me think just a little. Not required, but optional. I can't be bored. That's what real comfort is for me.

  • Gabriella Opaz

    Amy, I completely hear what your saying, as there is always a little joy to be found in deciphering a puzzle. For me, it's more based on my intention behind sitting down with a glass of wine. If I let myself go, not feeling that impending pressure at times to analyze and critique, I enjoy picking out specific flavors, notes and nuance. However, if I see the glass of wine in front of me as a chore, an obligation, suddenly…wine tasting loses its charm and becomes a "have to" rather than a "want to". Fortunately, the "have to" scenario is the exception and not the rule, and more often than not, wine is just my nectar of life!

  • http://amyrootvik.com amy

    Lovely post. I understand what you mean about it being a state of mind. But also in response to Erika’s comment, I sometimes find comfort in those things that make me think just a little. Not required, but optional. I can’t be bored. That’s what real comfort is for me.

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella Opaz

    Amy, I completely hear what your saying, as there is always a little joy to be found in deciphering a puzzle. For me, it’s more based on my intention behind sitting down with a glass of wine. If I let myself go, not feeling that impending pressure at times to analyze and critique, I enjoy picking out specific flavors, notes and nuance. However, if I see the glass of wine in front of me as a chore, an obligation, suddenly…wine tasting loses its charm and becomes a “have to” rather than a “want to”. Fortunately, the “have to” scenario is the exception and not the rule, and more often than not, wine is just my nectar of life!

  • Anna

    Ryan I enjoyed reading your post and loved your 3 line description of a comfort wine it says it all. Many times i find that my comfort bottle of wine disappears very quickly, 'cause when i am in for a "comforting" wine i really, really enjoy it and it's very quickly gobbled down….

  • http://www.excelwines.com/ Anna

    Ryan I enjoyed reading your post and loved your 3 line description of a comfort wine it says it all. Many times i find that my comfort bottle of wine disappears very quickly, ’cause when i am in for a “comforting” wine i really, really enjoy it and it’s very quickly gobbled down….

  • Bill

    Hey Ryan, Nice thoughts. You are basically describing the wine I have every night with dinner. However, if I was forced to narrow it down a bit, I would choose an aged Bordeaux. That's what a cellar is for. BTW, what are the '94 Ports going for in Oporto? Or the '63's for that matter? If you can score an older port for a reasonable price, pick one up for the gite, please.

  • Bill

    Hey Ryan,

    Nice thoughts. You are basically describing the wine I have every night with dinner.

    However, if I was forced to narrow it down a bit, I would choose an aged Bordeaux. That’s what a cellar is for.

    BTW, what are the ’94 Ports going for in Oporto? Or the ’63′s for that matter? If you can score an older port for a reasonable price, pick one up for the gite, please.

  • Dave Chouiniere

    I hope you never get burned out on wine, especially after marithon tastings like you described in this post. I really enjoyed your description of a "comfor wine." How do you sustain your love for wine when you have to work with it so much? I think it would be great to work in the wine field, but fear it might get old if I was exposed to it all day. How has this worked for you?

  • http://winections.blogspot.com/ Dave Chouiniere

    I hope you never get burned out on wine, especially after marithon tastings like you described in this post. I really enjoyed your description of a “comfor wine.” How do you sustain your love for wine when you have to work with it so much? I think it would be great to work in the wine field, but fear it might get old if I was exposed to it all day. How has this worked for you?

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