Tastings: SMW’s Best Wines for Solo Vinophiles

By Gretchen Kelly

I have always tried to ignore Rhett Butler’s advice, “Don’t drink alone, Scarlett. People always find out and it damages the reputation.”

For me, a meal without the sweet accompaniment of wine, is food wasted and a missed opportunity at pleasure. It doesn’t matter that I’m not sharing the meal with anyone. In fact, a solo meal without distracting conversation and the need to fuss around your partner, is a great time to concentrate on your own enjoyment.

The only problem with this equation is the wine itself. Some wines demand to be drunk at once, others last longer in the fridge and can be extended over a few meals.

Two new wines (both under $25.00), just out from Craggy Range Vineyards in New Zealand solve this problem well. Their new C3 Chardonnay Kidnappers Vineyard 2007, from the Hawkes Bay region of the North Island is a single vineyard Chardonnay made from three Chardonnay clones. A pale straw color with floral and lemon notes, white peach on the palate and firm acidity make this wine a great food partner. Craggy Range’s new Sauvignon Blanc Te Muna Road Vineyard 2007 has a fine acidity and a long, elegant finish—crisp and aromatic at the same time. Both wines come with screw tops—something I’ve resisted because I like cork—but which makes them last longer in the fridge for a week of wonderful food pairings.

Food and wine pairings are the specialty of Mary Watson, Resort Sommelier of the famed Lansdowne Resort and Spa in Virginia. Mary’s “Food and Wine Bootcamps” at the resort are fast becoming renowned among gourmands who love to make a bottle of great wine go a long way. We asked Mary to give us her recommendations for five wines for solo tasters to try now and here are her top picks:

CHAMPAGNE“This is my personal favorite and it never fails to cheer me up. The best thing about it now is that a bunch of producers are bottling 187 ml. sizes. That’s six ounces—perfect for just a glass without a big commitment and no waste. No matter what anyone tells you champagne/sparkling wine is never as good the next day, no matter what closure you use.” Mary likes: Moet & Chandon, Mumm, Lindauer, Pommery.

THINK PINK“Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of your choice. Roses are making a comeback and are very good versatile food wines. The sweeter ones are still going to be in the wine zin and other blanc styles from California. These wines have beautiful fruit, this is what makes them so adaptable.” Mary likes: “Rosa Regale, for a combination of pink, sparking and sweet, it is refreshing anytime and especially good in place of dessert after a good meal.”

PORT-“This is good when you just want a glass to have in front of the fireplace with your feet up after a long day. They last awhile after opening, which makes them perfect for a single glass. They come in all styles and prices, also in ½ bottles.” Mary likes: “Zinfandel ports from California such as Montevina’s Terra D’Oro and Beringer. Some of my other favorites are from Dows, Fonseca, Taylor-Fladgate, Warres and Churchill. I like tawny ports for their light nuttiness.”

RIESLING-“One of the most versatile food wines in the world. Most people think, “sweet” when they see the name, but Rieslings come in every level of sweetness from bone-dry to dessert-level.” Mary likes: Prum, Schloss Vollrads, Fritz Hagg, Pauly-Bergweiler from Germany and Stoneleigh and Grove Mill from New Zealand.

TORRONTES “This is something to try just for fun. It comes from Argentina and is a fun wine to sip and have with food. It has a sweet floral aroma and flavors of oranges, mangoes and ripe melons.” Mary likes: Alamos, Santa Julia, Familia Schroeder.

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