A love/hate relationship. That’s New York. There’s no middle ground. I admit it: I like to be at home. It’s just that sometimes I feel the walls closing in: going for a walk usually helps. A long walk, or a bike ride. Getting some fresh air, staring off into the distance, far beyond the confines of my cellphone, surrounding myself with a little greenery… NY is so great in summer!
But when I’m on my bike and take a wrong turn, whoops! I’m back in the middle of the smoke and noise and chaos, it drives me crazy.
White wines of Argentina: let’s go!
Maybe I was locked inside so long I forgot what it was like? Maybe. A little chaos never did anyone any harm, but getting back home is a relief too. The sofa is suddenly the best place on earth. No comparison. I can spend a long time staring at my phone or stroking Cookie until she purrs us both to sleep. I’m happy not doing anything but then I feel guilty about it. So close and yet so far from all that hustle and bustle, the constant traffic and noise. I think it’s about finding your own space. A bubble you can choose for yourself.
Before Covid I used to go out a lot: to see films, to bars, Central Park. Everything was a stone’s throw away and I was ready for an adventure. Maybe not so much in winter when the snow falls and it gets real cold. That’s the season for being indoors and binge-watching movies and series. Best routine ever.
But when it’s warm out, it’s different: I go out whenever I can. It’s another, lovely side of NY. The infinite number of things you can do, the stuff that makes it like nowhere on earth.
Learning about the white wines of Argentina
Over the past year, the year of the Pandemic, I got used to being here. I read a lot, listened to music, binge-watched series… and I took much better care of my plants! Oh yes, I also discovered the world of wine. I’m just a beginner, but I’ve learned a lot already.
It’s just one path of course, but for me it felt inevitable. Moving from beer, coffee, and cocktails onto new horizons. I think its’s exciting. I’ve learned about giving wine as a gift and got some tips on how to choose the right bottle. It’s not about the drink itself but new experiences, like it’s one big game. I love the idea that there’s a wine out there for everyone: the challenge is to find mine.
After sending Hayley her Malbec and visiting the wine store, I started to do some research about Argentina and its wines. I admit it: I’m a little obsessive. When I get interested in something I really go for it, I try to get right to the bottom of things and learn everything I can. And if there are books available, even better. I usually explore on my own, at least until I come across something that baffles me. Fortunately, there’s always someone willing to help out: in my case, it’s Alex, my wine guru, who works at my local wine store.
Learning about wine involves a lot of information about grapes, flavors and colors but there’s another very interesting aspect: the role it plays in society, now and throughout history. It can be a ritual, a ceremony, or even a journey.
When I was a girl I dreamed of becoming an archeologist, I loved Ancient Rome. They associated wine with pleasure and would serve it at big banquets, festivals and even when they marched off to war. It was always a way of honoring one another. They also worshipped Bacchus, the god of wine. So did the Greeks, although they called him Dionysius. Both civilizations were pioneers of wine culture but you never really need an excuse to open a good wine.
Mendoza, a focal point
As I dove headfirst into the world of different labels I discovered Mendoza, the main wine-producing region of Argentina. I found photographs of stunning landscapes on the internet with huge mountains, endless vineyards, fields, rivers, snowy peaks and steep canyons full of brilliant greens and blues. Mendoza is near Chile, on the other side of the Andes, and apparently it doesn’t rain very much there. I also learned about grape varieties; Malbec’s very important, but it’s not the be and end all. There are a lot of other reds, whites and rosés. I suddenly got curious about the whites and rosés of Argentina.
White wine is perfect for summer, which, fortunately, is right now. It’s a refreshing fruity, delicious drink that you can even mix with ice. Maybe a Sauvignon Blanc – I’m still not sure if I’m pronouncing that right.
As far as I can see, whites from Argentina have a more tropical flavor. I like that. Travelling without leaving your seat, heading to South America, I once saw a woman from Argentina singing on the Jimmy Fallon show. She was called Nicky too!
Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin and Semillón
On my imaginary journey, I came across Torrontés, an Argentine grape, which usually has a light body and flowery aromas. A good, sweet, light Torrontés is an excellent alternative to beer. Nothing too pretentious but with good flavor; easy to drink. It seems it also goes well with spicy, flavorful food like Asian or Indian cuisine.
And they’re pretty affordable! At least the ones a novice like me is looking at. There are more expensive ones of course. For 10 dollars you can get a range of Argentine Torrontés like Kaiken Estate, Cafayate and Hermanos, which come from the Province of Salta, or Chakana Estate and Críos from Mendoza.
See? I’ve learned a little something already! Other white varieties include Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin and Semillón but we’ll get to them later, there’s no rush.
I’d love to share a bottle with my friends. I haven’t seen them in a long time. Well, I see them but not nearly enough. I miss them so much! Over the past year we’ve held Zoom meetings for birthdays and such but it’s not the same. Now that summer is here, I’d love to share a bottle with them, maybe as a send-off for spring. The reason doesn’t really matter of course. Just so long as there’s enough for everyone.
So, I’ll take care of the wine, I think I’ve earned the right…
How about you, have you ever chosen a wine for someone else? Why not give it a try? Tell me about your discoveries! I’d love to hear all about them!