I'm so conflicted about alcohol in wine. Yes, it's a seemingly imbecilic thing to be aggravated about . . . after all, wine is hardly wine without alcohol. It's just that you shouldn't actually be tasting any alcohol in wine. Any wine in fact. I can dare say that no fine wine of the world contains the noticeable burn of alcohol, on both nose and palate. So where does that leave American wine, most recently, the bottle of Santa Rita Hills pinot noir that got me so fucked up?
It was a good afternoon. It was so hot outside, just positively tropical in Toronto. I had the charcoal roaring in the backyard, a few bottles of Anchor Steam and some wines on ice, and save for shorts and an apron, I was all sweaty and gloriously naked. We started with the beer, but with the grilled fish and squid ready, it was time to move onto the wine. I open it all at once to drink together, letting me compare them in one go. Besides, I get bored when there's just one wine on the table. Everything was fine, all cool, enjoying myself . . . until I stood up to check the grill and realized my legs were wobbly.
I had no more than 4 or 5 glasses. And those who've dined with me know that I subscribe to the 2 ounce pour. So what happened? Let's be honest, I'm hardly a lightweight when it comes to alcohol - I'm Chinese, I grew up drinking hard rice spirits. And yet this Californian pinot noir, at a listed 14.7%, did me in. Lights out, just like that. How can this be pleasurable? How can you defend these wines? Let's ignore the fact that I got bombed out my mind for a bit . . . the wine itself tasted terrible. Searing alcohol, completely burnt, macerated fruit, unrecognizable as pinot noir.
Someone help me understand because I just don't get how anyone can enjoy these wines.