Wine can be a simple pleasure on its own, but some bottles can also wear you down. They might need food to balance, say, an intense earthiness or a high alcohol content that practically melts your face off.
When I’m looking for easy drinking, I turn to the 2011 William Fevre 2011 Chablis, an unoaked French Chardonnay that delivers a crisp, mineral-driven freshness straight out of the bottle. Credit to Bacchanalia’s Andrew Harris for the suggestion. In looking for more everyday wines that excel without a food pairing, I spoke with Julie Williams, a former Bacchanalia server, manager, and beverage director and the current general manager at 4th & Swift.
Williams, who graduated from Kennesaw State with a B.S. in psychology, says that she is big on a wine’s texture.
“I love a soft, velvety, silky mouthfeel to a wine. I like the way it melts in your mouth,” she says.
Below Williams suggests three reds and three whites that fit the bill for helping all of us wine down. While all six are unique, Williams summarized that each has plenty of texture to stand on its own, and none of them have big tannins or intense butter and oak. (Sorry, American Chardonnay.)
2009 Bell Syrah, Canterbury Vineyard, Sierra Foothills
"I recently traveled to Napa to visit this winery. I absolutely adore this Syrah because of its luscious dark fruits, but it’s also not overly extracted and finishes nice and soft. It’s easy drinking but also beautiful and complex. This isn’t always what people look for in Syrah, which often have big flavor profiles. This is a sexy, feminine wine."
2008 Star Lane Cabernet, Happy Canyon, Santa Barbara
"This is not a big, tannic Cab. It doesn’t have that intense grip that calls for food to balance it out. Sure, this will pair well with a rack of lamb, but it’s a very pleasing, expressive wine with silky texture."
2009 Feudi di San Gregorio Primitivo di Manduria, Puglia, Italy
"This Zinfandel is not big or overpowering. It’s restrained. [Note: Primitivo is a close, Italian relative to Zinfandel and often referred to synonymously.] Sometimes those new world Zins are just too much, but with this one, you can still taste Zinfandel but again it’s easier to drink. It’s a grown-up Zin."
2011 Cuvée du Vatican Châteauneuf-du-Pape Réserve Sixtine
"This wine is something I like to start with and is almost a meal in itself. It’s a dark yellow color and heavy on the oak but it plays out beautifully with notes of pear, pineapple, and honey. Whereas I typically don’t like American oak, Old World whites have finesse and seem to integrate oak without making it the predominate characteristic." The 2009 vintage is available at Tower Beer, Wine & Spirits on Piedmont road for $52.97.
2010 Jean-Jacques Vincent Pouilly-Fuisse Marie Antoinette
"This is a beautiful expression of Chardonnay. It’s very floral and feminine and what you think when you think about Marie Antoinette. There’s a vague mineral quality to it with just a hint of sweetness. This is one of those wines where food would mask subtle notes you wouldn’t want to miss." Half bottles of the 2011 vintage are available at Sherlock's Wine Merchant in Buckhead for $14.99.
2010 Clement Klur Voyou de Katz, Alsace
"Here’s a really delightful, light-hearted wine. Bright, nice acid, fruit-forward but it’s not cloying. It finishes very clean."
If you can't find these wines on the shelf, check with your local wine shop to see if they can special order them for you. You can find all of these bottles at 4th & Swift.