Comfort Wines

After a long dry spell, this Wineau longs for the familiar.

Not drinking wine was my least favorite thing about pregnancy. I’d
hoped that my doctor might have new, unpublicized data that said, “Ill
effects debunked, drink all you want!” but no such luck. She advised
one glass a month, max.

I stuck to that until Month 6, when I had dinner with four doctor
friends (including one who was pregnant and another who’s an OB-GYN).
They railed collectively against the litigation phobia pervasive in
their industry and manifest, they claimed, in the no-drinking
guidelines for pregnant women. Hmm, food for thought — as was
“once a week is fine” (a stranger at a dinner party), “after five
months, anything goes” (the woman who cuts my hair), “no harm in once a
day” (a colleague), and “how could you be so selfish” (every other
commenter on BabyCenter.com). In
Month 8, I happened to see another doctor in my practice who, upon
learning that I write about wine, said, “Well, I hope you’ve been
drinking during your pregnancy!” The baby, apparently, had had enough
of the mixed messages — 48 hours later, out she came.

You might think that after eight months of hand wringing over
“can-I” or “can’t-I” I’d be living it up over here, enjoying exotic
varietals and a range of labels to make up for lost time. Instead,
thanks to breastfeeding and fatigue, I’ve gravitated towards
medium-bodied, not-too-high-alcohol wines made from Rhône grapes.
Comfort wines, let’s call them.

The 2005 MAN Vintners Shiraz found favor in our household a
couple of summers ago, so for $7.99 the 2007 vintage
seemed like a safe bet. This wine had a closed aroma at first, but a
day after we opened it, it had blossomed into a mellow red that
nevertheless boasted lots of cherry. MAN also makes a $7.99
Pinotage
, which piqued my curiosity since that’s not a grape that
often comes cheap. I thought this one was just fine, despite what our
Token Winemaker called out as a strongly vegetal aroma of overcooked
green beans.

The sleeper hit of my post-pregnancy tippling has been the
nonvintage Chateau Calage Syrah/Grenache/Mouvedre blend ($7.99)
from Languedoc. This wine is made for Fresh & Easy supermarkets,
and it’s a delightful blend with strong notes of black fruit and a
sophistication that belies its price. In a postpartum haze, we let this
one sit too long in our sunny living room and now wonder how much
better it might have been if properly stored. We’ll happily try another
bottle to find out.

Despite my recent affinity for Rhône reds, I’d be remiss if I
didn’t mention a fabulous turkey-friendly Riesling on this Thanksgiving
eve. Token Winemaker can’t stop gushing about the 2007 Targovishte
Riesling ($6.99)
from Bulgaria — an off-dry, crisp, and
subtly effervescent wine he loved for its light fruit, floral, and
vegetal notes and its great balance.

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