Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Temptation Tuesday: Fine Wine

This Temptation Tuesday, Harlequin Romance author Donna Alward reveals her ultimate wind-down strategy....wine!

Wine and chocolate. Add in coffee and you have a writer's three most popular indulgences. And aren't we lucky we can find the health benefits in all of those things? Who knew that "wine and chocolate" night would become heart healthy? LOL Especially if you go for dark choccy and red wine. Polyphenols, anyone?

I was a late comer to enjoying wine, and always stuck with something predictable like a white chardonnay when out anywhere. I'm not sure when that time changed, but I do remember the first time I had a red that I liked. It was when we had company for dinner and the guests brought a bottle of Valpolicella (Thanks, Steve, for contributing to my downfall!). After that I was all into the trying of new kinds.

A connoisseur I am not, however. Like most, I'm rather pedestrian about my wine and I just know what I like. I'm also not likely to be on the NYT bestseller list any time soon and can't afford to go crazy expensive. Make it yummy and cheap and I'm SO there. The good news is you don't have to spend a lot to get a very nice wine.

Still...one of my favorite things is to relax on a Saturday night with a glass of wine, letting the full flavours enrobe my tongue. I like my reds full bodied and complex. I sip...I exhale...and the week's stress melts away.

One of my favourite things to do is visit wineries when I'm in British Columbia. This summer we chatted to the owner of Granite Creek for a long time and I did some tasting. I bought a bottle of Gamay Noir...a bottle of Syrah...and my husband bought a bottle of port which is a bit sweet for my taste but interesting as it is blended with alcohol derived from grape (Merlot) and not grain. 100% grape. I love looking at the vines and learning which grapes work best in which areas...for example, at this winery, you'll find mostly white grapes but at their vineyards a few hours further south, where the weather is different, they grow their reds. I got their very last bottle of Syrah and counted myself lucky. YUM.

I'm not one of those who can taste a wine and breakdown into "well this is black cherry, plum and chocolate with a slighty oaky finish". My palate just isn't that refined. I do have general favourites though...Australian shiraz's are quite nice as a general rule, and I do enjoy a good cabernet and I think South African reds have quite a lot to offer...I seem to prefer Italian reds over French (though this IS Beaujolais month!)and enjoy Montepulciano - had a very nice one during lunch in London. I also like a lot of the wines coming out of Canada now...mostly BC but some of the Niagara region. I'm not overly fond of Merlot or Bordeaux's as a rule, though sometimes the blends can be surprisingly interesting. One thing I haven't tried much of is late harvest and ice wine, partly because it's so expensive, but I'd like to - now that I know so much more about the process and how fragile it is!

And while I don't drink white often, I've given over the Chardonnay and have jumped on the Pinot Gris bandwagon. I like my whites clean and crisp.

And I think wines are catching on with celebs as well as it seems to be the new favorite hobby. Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Nascar hotshot Jeff Gordon, Sam Neill, Sting, and even football player Joe Montana are dabbling in the business of making fine wine.

But when it all comes down to it it's all in finding something you enjoy. For me there's nothing better than having a lovely red while in my comfiest jammies, watching favourite dvd's. That's a temptation I can't resist!

Donna plans to set a book at a winery in the near future...until then, her next release is THE SOLDIER'S HOMECOMING, out in March. Catch up with her on her website and blog.


  1. I with you absolutely, Donna. It's the only alcohol I really like - although Pimms in the summer is just fine.

    I live in an area where there's a big Italian community and lots of winemaker goes on here. They have huge quantities of grapes brought over from 'home' and make fantastic - hangover free - wine. Makes you wonder what they put in the stuff that gives you that kind of fuzzy after-effect on just one glass.

  2. Funny, my introduction to wine was from two sides. My RWA Chapter is where A LOT of wineries are located in California started having meetings and we went to a winery. Second I started listening to a podcast about writing and wine. I tried a very good Chardonnay and was hooked.

    Glad to see I'm in good company as far as wine/writers are concerned.

  3. I could use a glass right about now. Had a hellacious day.

    Mel...I might have to join that chapter...lol...but it might be a bit of a commute to the meetings. I suppose it would really require a weekend stay....:-)

  4. Yes, red wine! I like many but Merlot is my favorite! I have been to many wine tastings. They are so much fun! Our liquor store in our town used to have them regularly. Then, the ACF, American Culinary Federation group we attend has them from time to time also. I have been introduced to so many different wines over the years. There is a new one now, well I think it has been out for a couple of years now, but it is called Shiraz. It is simply delicious! It is a combination of flavors that is fun to figure out.

    I do enjoy a glass of red wine with some cheese and fruit. That is the best way to sample wine! Oh I almost forgot I have sampled some wines that were made to compliment chocolate and they were exquisite!