If wine had an arch enemy, what would it be? Probably the Chile family. Jalapeños are never found on any wine’s “Best Friends List,” and Habaneros and wine are a hopeless couple. Chiles in general not only upstage, but actively trample most wines. So if you have a penchant for Mexican cuisine, is there a wine that works? Many fresh fruit-driven wines have just enough sweetness to successfully dance with the chile’s heat. Your favorite Wine of the Month Club suggests a California semi-dry riesling.

Another “Doesn’t Play Well with Wine” food is salad served with vinaigrette. As our taste buds adjust to the sourness of the dressing, all we can decipher from the wine is an overwhelming sweetness. This pairing is forever doomed to being irreconcilable. (We suggest retaining the wine, and pitching the vinaigrette!)

Need protection from sniffling, sneezing children and the cold germs they sometimes carry? Short of barring the little curtain climbers entrance to your space, we recommend you relax and have a glass of wine. Red wine. People who sip just one glass a day are 40% less likely to catch a cold than non-winers. Yale University researchers say that the flavonoids (powerful components in grape skins) actually weaken cold viruses, rendering them too weak to enter our cells.

Not a fig fan, even though they offer more fiber per serving than most other fruits? Try these: Black Mission figs are like cabernets – deep and earthy in flavor. A Brown Turkey fig is the bird-equivalent of a robust pinot noir. Calimyrna figs resemble buttery chardonnays. Try a fistful of these figs. We KNOW you like wine!

Let’s shake up this family tree. Cognac looks like, so is thought to be, a member of the vodka family. Nope. Is it an off-shoot of brandy? Correct, technically speaking. Factually, Cognac (the vodka-look-alike, but actually a type of brandy) is a second-generation white wine! The white wine (soon-to-be cognac) is double distilled – then long-aged in large oak barrels for not months, but years. Gradually some of the water and alcohol (called the angels’ share) evaporate, and the appealing amber color develops. NOW it IS cognac! Those angels really like white wine! It’s estimated that over 20 million bottles’ worth of Cognac (between 2% and 5% of each barrel’s pure alcohol) evaporate yearly.  

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Amy Heydt
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