free run juice

the corona drinking guide

level of panic: 1-2
what to pour: white

You’re in the initial stages of pandemic panic. We’ll get through it. Pour a glass of Sylvaner, a nice light white with notes of lemon and white florals. Meant to be drunk young when it’s racy, it will go well with your racing heart. It’s mostly from Alsace or Germany, but I also found this Kofererhof from northern Italy which is a great region to support right now.

Also, you’re probably going to be on a diet solely made of pasta, rice and tortillas, and white wine will go well with these. Why not use your extra time at home to explore a new region? Try Chardonnay from Chile – it’s has more minerality, acid, and tropical fruit than the Chardonnays you’re likely used to. It’s also a great value, as are so many Chilean wines. Look for Leyda and Lapostolle.

level of panic: 3-4
what to pour: red

OK, you’re getting deep and you could use the warmth of tannins and deep black fruits to soothe over any moments of panic and doom. Lose yourself in a beautiful Châteauneuf-du-Pape – it’s a time of crisis so let’s start popping the good stuff. It’s from the southern Rhône and made from 13 grapes. If you spend time learning all about them, there’s no time left to panic. I used to be able to recite them all from memory when I was studying at the American Sommelier Association. Time to brush up while sipping some Vieux Télégraphe!
 
Or, there really isn’t a better time to support Italian wine regions. Try a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, like this one from Valdipiatta with notes of black cherry and tobacco. Or this bold, spicy Perricone I just had from Tasca d’Almerita in Sicliy. That’s a grape that used to be planted much more widely, but Tasca has kept it going in some of their best wines. 

Feel like trying something new? Look for wines from Lebanon, which I just had with my tasting group last week (one of my last social gatherings before quarantine!). You can probably find some from the Bekaa Valley like Chateau Musar and Domaine des Tourelles which use familiar grapes like Cab and Syrah. But I loved the Northpath wines from Batroun, an area that has smaller, more boutique wineries. These organic wines made from Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cabernet were deliciously warm and soothing with lots of tobacco, plum, and prune.

level of panic: 5
what to pour: bubbly

You’re thinking “We’re in the middle of a pandemic, this is no time to be celebrating.” Wrong!

First, sparkling wine isn’t just for celebrating, though the sound of that cork popping tends to get everyone in party mode (don’t front like you haven’t shouted a nerdy “Heyyyy!” after hearing the pop at some point). But ultimately, it’s one of the most complex wines to make. Take Champagne: it’s made from three different grapes which have to be blended into a delicious balance and fermented twice to get the bubbles and sweetness level created. It’s a fascinating process that showcases the best of human passion, dedication, and art. What’s a better of what life is all about?

Even if you’re not pouring Champagne specifically, let a glass of bubbles be the uplifting moment in your quarantined day. Laurent Perrier rosé is one of the loveliest.

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