Trying new wines

There are, at best guess, more than 15,000 different wines on sale in the United States, so it’s not like we don’t have a lot of choices.

Cupcake Riesling ($12) Washington >

Wine drinkers are creatures of habit. Once we find a wine we like, it’s almost impossible to get us to try something different. That’s one reason why the wine business spends so much time and money on marketing gimmicks, cute wine labels and the like. They know how difficult it is to overcome our lethargy.

But wine should not be that way. There are, at best guess, more than 15,000 different wines on sale in the United States, so it’s not like we don’t have a lot of choices. And there is plenty of quality within that quantity. Wine, whether cheap or expensive, sweet or dry, red or white, has never been better.

Nevertheless, how many times have we said, “But I don’t like that,” when someone has suggested we try something new. I’m no different in that regard, and it sometimes takes all my professionalism to taste a wine I just know I’m not going to like.

So, this month, try something that you don’t like. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You’ll discover a new wine? Here are a few suggestions:

• Red wine for people who don’t like red wine: Rene Barbier Mediterranean Red ($6). This red blend from Spain doesn’t have the bitter tannins and harsh acid of many red wines. In fact, chill this a little, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it before.

• Texas wine: Too many wine drinkers know Texas wine stinks, even if they’ve never tried it. That’s open minded, isn’t it? Becker’s reserve merlot ($18), which won a gold medal at the recent Lone Star International, should change most people’s minds. And this recommendation comes from someone who doesn’t much care for merlot.

• Sweet wine for people who don’t like sweet wine: Cupcake’s riesling from Washington state ($12), another gold medal winner at Lone Star. It’s not sweet like white zinfandel, but the sweetness is a pleasant part of the wine.

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Grilled black bean burritos

Another fast-food staple that is easy to make at home and actually tastes better. Not only does it pair with almost any kind of wine, but it’s a great way to use leftover rice or that can of black beans (or pinto beans) that has been sitting in the cupboard. And don’t be afraid to add chopped jalapeños, diced onion or even pitted olives.

Serves 4-6, takes 30 minutes

  • 2 c cooked black beans
  • 2 c cooked rice
  • 1/2 to 1 c best quality green salsa
  • 6 large flour tortillas, warmed
  • 1 c grated cheese

1. Mix all ingredients, except the salsa and tortillas, in a bowl. Add the salsa a bit at a time, until you have a thick mixture that you can spoon onto the tortillas.
2. Spoon 1/6 of the mixture into the center of a tortilla. Wrap the tortilla into a log shape, folding the bottom over the mixture, then tucking in each side, and then folding the top over all.
3. Put a tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet, and warm over medium heat. Grill the burritos, a couple at a time, in the skillet, fold-side down first. Cook on each side for 2 or 3 minutes or until each side is brown.

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Ask the Wine Guy?

Are there really health benefits to drinking wine?
Yes, in moderation — a glass or two a day. Researchers still aren’t quite sure what all the benefits are and what causes them, but they seem to be centered around your heart and come from a compound called reseveratrol. Red wine seems to produce more resveratrol than white wine.


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