Dear Senor Day:
I think you know Trevor, my husband. He’s mentioned that you’ve chatted with him and the other knights of the round table in front of The Longhorn Smokehouse. He’s the one known as Clever Trevor. The one that dresses like a cross between a Guatemalan peasant and Porter Wagoner. I think most of the time…or at least some of the time…he’s one helluva guy. But now, he’s maybe stepped over the line.
The other night, he apparently had two, perhaps three, maybe four too many and was led astray. First to Hank’s. Then to Dean Martini’s. Next to La Noche. And finally to El Caporal, whatever and wherever in hell that is.
Anyway, all he could say when he got home was, “I played drums with Johnny Favorite, I played drums with Johnny Favorite”. Now he’s always had these fantasies where he asks me to scream out the word Ringo but I think this time he’s gone too far.
Apparently at La Noche, he met some “interesting new people” and they…and their wives and girlfriends (and, apparently one has both)…are coming to our home on Sunday for a Super Ball…or something like that…party.
Now I checked Rachel (how can you help but not love her) Ray’s website and discovered that the appropriate food to serve for this super duper whatever party is chili con carne and that America’s favorite chili is Dinty Moore’s. Well, luckily, our local supermarket here in San Miguel de Allende, Mega, had an enormous supply of Dinty Moore’s, probably in anticipation of this sporting event, but nowhere on the web can I find a recommendation for an appropriate wine to suitably match with America’s favorite food.
Plus there’s one more little problem. If you have met Clever Trevor, you probably also know he’s an artist and we came to San Miguel for him to start a second career (he says we chose it because of the light). Well, so far, and it’s been almost a year, he hasn’t sold anything (he says it’s because art is about creation not commerce). So please try to keep the cost down to a starving artist’s wife’s budget.
Dear Clever Trevor’s Wife:
You have definitely written to the right person. Don Day has been pairing wines with food for decades. I’ve in fact paired thousands of bottles, sometimes even only with other bottles and absolutely no food, over those years. And I’ve learned something invaluable. It’s not so much what you serve to your guests, it’s how you present it.
Let’s start with Don Day’s chosen wine.
It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot but you must never call it that to your guests. It should simply be a Cab/Merlot (and please make sure you pronounce it murlow).
It comes from Chile which is not a particularly good place to be from (but a nice place to visit if you can ever get a winery to pick up the airfare) so if anyone mentions it, you simply say, “Yes, it’s so hard to get a decent Bordeaux (almost half of all French words rhyme with Merlot and the rest aren’t worth using) in this town.”
The brand is Santa Carolina and I always find it’s good to include a piece of totally useless information about any wine. My recommendation is to say how charming you think it is that the founder of the winery named it after the wife that, he adored so much, he compared to a saint. Though the men may shrug; the ladies will cherish this obscure fact.
Another thing about Santa Carolina is that it’s pretty popular and some of the guests may know that it’s what we oenophiles (yes, do try to fit that word into a conversation) call a “bottom-shelfer” or a less expensive wine. This can be countered by saying, “Isn’t it amazing that Parker hasn’t reviewed the 2013 yet, he must have his tete up his derriere (and never mind what that means).
OK, now the actual name of the wine. It’s Vistaña and the important thing here is the pronunciation. You’ll see that the “n” has what Spanish speaking people call a tilde on top but what Don Day still calls the twirly thing. This means you don’t pronounce the last three letters as in Anna Kournikova the woman in the tight tennis shorts but instead as in Lotte Lenya, the woman in Mack The Knife.
OK, now comes the really tough part. Now you must talk in winespeak, a language that would take at least five years of Warren Hardy classes. My only advice is to avoid the meaty power verbs and concentrate on the fruit and vegetables nouns. That and repeat the next few sentences over and over as you’re falling asleep the night before the party. Ready?
The Santa Carolina Vistaña (don’t forget rhymes with Lenya) Cab/Merlot (don’t forget, rhymes with low) exhibits a deep garnet color. It is both elegant and well balanced with soft herbal and floral notes. There are hints of pimento, cassis and leather on the nose. With full and ripe currants, prunes and blackberries on the tongue.
OK, now repeat it. And again. And again. And one more time.
As Henry Higgins said, “I do believe she’s got it.”
So, how good really is Santa Carolina Vistaña Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot? Well Don Day gives it an 86, on a scale that rates a 90 as excellent. Now I don’t know about you, but in any course I took in any school I was wishin’ and hopin’, thinkin’ and prayin’, plannin’ and dreamin’ for maybe a 75 so 86 sounds awful good to me.
Oh and that price. Go ahead. Guess. 150 pesos a bottle? No. Probably more like 200? No, absolutely not. Santa Carolina Vistaña Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot is 57 pesos a bottle at San Miguel’s liquor store, La Europea. Yes, about $4 U.S.
Now jump in a cab and buy a box before those other four people who listen to Don Day’s wine recommendations get there before you.
Santa Carolina Vistaña Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot is available at La Europea, Canal #13 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico as well as many other places that sell wine.