“Beware the Ides of March.” Shakespeare
“March comes in like a lion, out like a lamb.” ?
Today is a cloudy, cold day here in Coastal North Carolina. It is supposed to rain any minute now, so they say on tv, and the rain is expected to last and stick around for a while. But it is the cold temps that have everyone upset. It is now about 55 degrees, but the clouds make it look and feel so much colder, maybe closer to 52. Here in North Carolina this is called “WINTER.” And no matter what March comes in like, the lamb can’t get here soon enough. A few years ago when I was living in Connecticut, we would have killed for a day like this in March. This would be called “a good day for working outside,” and lawn cleanups would be the order of the day. But here, shut in by this horrific lack of sunshine and a sky which is not its usual blue, there is only one thing to do.
This brings me to a rather favorite pastime of mine…wine. I’m feeling like maybe a good chianti or a sangiovese would raise my spirits. And not to make light of a bad situation, news about the coronavirus is also keeping people inside, so what better way to spend a sad looking Sunday.
La Carraia wineries are a relative newcomer to the Italian peninsula. Founded in 1976 by the Cotarella and Gialletti families La Carraia can boast of a wide selection of wines from the casual to the most discerning. The vintage I have chosen is of the former variety, moderately priced at about $13, but with many of the qualities of a higher priced bottle.
Umbria, the region of Italy from which this brand originates is unique because it is one of the few areas which is totally landlocked. It is generally dry with most of its rain falling in the autumn. But summers are warm and winters are on the cool side, but relatively short, giving the grape a long growing season. The most remarkable thing though is the dry, virtually non-polluted air, which naturally will produce a crop free from most contaminants which must be filtered out of other wines.
As a Sangiovese, this wine is heavier than say a pinot noir, but light enough to be enjoyed with fish. In fact, my family and I enjoyed it and felt it added a dimension to salmon which was a treat to us. There are definite hints of black berries and plum and even some tobacco. The ruby red color gave the table a nice glow and offset the salmon and other vegetables well. Later, we finished off the bottle with dessert and were still pleased. Although not a sweet wine by any means, we still enjoyed what was left with our cannoli!
This wine is really described as a “pizza and pasta” wine, and is usually paired with barbecued meats, especially beef ribs. But, I personally have never subscribed to the red with meat and white with fish school of thought. I have always felt that the flavor of a good wine can be enjoyed with anything and does in fact enhance flavors. Think of it as a contrast in taste rather than a complement. I can assure you that you will never be disappointed with a good contrast. Just as a night sky looks good in red and orange with a blue background, contrasting tastes between food and beverage is just as much a winning combination.
Also, this is one of the first wines I have ever decanted, which just adds to the flavor. The bouquet was substantial enough to rise out of the glass and incorporate itself into the foods. This is also something I rarely do, but in this case I was very pleased with the results.
How does this relate to a rainy day and staying inside? Oh I don’t know. I guess it’s enough to say that my wife and I will just relax today, share a glass and kick back. There’s got to be a good old black and white on the Turner Classics channel and there’s no better way to enjoy that.
Here in Coastal Carolina winter is a different kind of animal. We left Connecticut in 2014 after five of the worst winters I had ever known. Every year I was shoveling snow off the roof, removing ice dams from gutters and hearing on the news about building roofs that had collapsed under the weight of the snow. I can remember the oil delivery man climbing over eight foot mountains of plowed snow just to deliver fuel to our houses and trudging through four feet of the white stuff on the covered lawn to deliver that precious oil. Temperatures were so low and wind so bad that even the thermal windows were shaking and shutters were blown all over the street. Now contrast that with our winter here as temps fell through the thirties and skies turned gray for a day or two. Last winter it did get unusually cold and some pipes in the “FROG,” front room over the garage, did freeze a bit. But by 10:00 AM they were thawed with no damage and temps got back to the forties. A bad North Carolina winter. (We did rebuild by the way.)
Maybe a gray day isn’t so bad after all.