Cooped up in the crib from Hurricane Sandy? Nerves a wreck? The perfect time for a glass of wine. If you're anything like me, a nice glass of wine relaxes and soothes the savage beast that a thing like being forced to eat canned goods or losing the ability to tweet, pin or google brings about. People have the tendency to want to horde beer when they expect to be stranded at home for a few days but a few good bottles of wine waxes 'cool and cosmopolitan' over 'wasted and fratboy'.
My never-ending quest to discover my modern comfort foods drove me to attend a wine and spirits tasting sponsored by SDS Enterprises a couple weeks ago. I can now assuredly say that I have a few more selections to add to my comfort roster.
The intimate autumn tasting gave me some new favorites and introduced me to some fabulous firsts. Shaw Vineyard is located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State and is run by Steve Shaw, a 30-year veteran winemaker who offered his wonderfully flavorful wines for the tasting. His vineyard produces a smooth and slightly tart Cabernet Franc 2007 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 that is also tart and a touch acidic with the faintest hint of citrus notes. Also on the roster was a Keuka Hill Reserve 2007, a kind of Cab-Sav, Cab-Franc, Merlot blend that was definitely smooth with a half sweet, half tart, a touch woody and more cultured flavor. My favorite red was Shaw's Pinot Noir 2008, which had a slightly spicy flavor with a touch of sweet and very gratifying finish. Now onto the whites. Shaw Vineyards offered up a Reisling 2008 that was fresh and light with slightly sweet notes and a crisp acidic finish. The Sauvignon Blanc 2011, my favorite of the whites, was incredibly smooth and refreshing with a sweet undertone, bite of tart and great aromatics. Finishing the whites was Li Bella Pinot Grigio 2010 from Shaw's Seneca Lake Vineyard that was light crisp, smooth and more delicate but also a touch more sweeter than the other two whites. Some great wines to get cozy with from Shaw Vineyards.
The spirits were also in the house in the forms of Vodka, Tequila, Rum, Mezcal and Cognac. Iceberg Vodka is a smooth and crisp vodka with a surprisingly slightly sweet subtle taste. Cockspur Rum is a very spicy rum with a sweet aroma that would make one helluva cocktail with island fruity flavors like coconut or pineapple or earthy fragrant spices like nutmeg or cinnamon. Next I went south of the border with Quinta De Gomez, a Mexican tequila that was a touch sweet with a smooth slightly sweet and pleasant taste great for mixing. It's cousin mezcal was on-hand from a company called El Diablito. This was my first time having a mezcal and it had a smooth and woody flavor that was almost coffee-like in its earthiness. My last 'first' was a trio of cognacs from Comandon, a French cognac that is easy to see why it's been voted the world's best tasting cognac. The flavors differ between the three since each is aged longer than the last. Comandon V.S. had a taste that right off reminded me of the holidays and the flavors my mom would put into her West Indian fruitcakes. The tone was sweet and freshly spicy with a very pleasant aroma. Comandon V.S.O.P. was a touch more sweet where V.S. was spicy but still had a distinct deep flavor. My fave was Comandon X.O.. The fragrantly sweet aroma draws you in with a scent reminiscent of molasses and hits the palette with equal parts sweet, woodsy and spicy. I am now an official cognac lover.
My quest for comfort foods were definitely satisfied that evening with flavors that were not only some of the best but also wonderful flavors to relax the mind and help one unwind after a long day. I went and grabbed some pizza with friends after the tasting and although pretty liquored up, I longed for the cozy flavors to accompany my cheesy comforting delight. Lesson learned: Comfort foods must stick together. Enjoy and drink responsibly.