Growing up, I had always considered myself a white tee-shirt and jeans kind of girl. Still to this day I love that basic combination from time to time; however, at age eighteen I felt terrified to ever step outside of a simplistic wardrobe mentality. Dare I ever wear cowboy boots with jeans and these leathery stompers not be in style? Oh what a tragedy that would be! My freshman roommate in college had been a blessing in disguise. Some of the first words she ever advised destroyed my insecurity and would influence me forever.
“Style is about taking risks and carrying yourself with confidence.”
Unfortunately, I believe the majority of the population stays within the realm of sweet wine and Pinot Grigio because they are not sure how to step outside of their comfort zone. For someone who has consistently maintained a plain Jane wardrobe, where do you begin jazzing up the outfit? From necklaces to earrings, belts to jackets, or maybe an entirely new shirt… the options can be overwhelming. Considering Spain has multiple clones of Tempranillo, Italy has hundreds of grapes produced, France rarely states which grapes are used on the bottle, and Shiraz in Australia is to Syrah in California, I can sympathize with the confused and wary consumer. Believe it or not, wine becomes much more exciting beyond Pinot Grigio, exhilarating beyond Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon at a mass-produced level, and truly fascinating when a completely foreign varietal is paired with food in a harmonious manner. Take risks with wine, have an open mind, and believe your palate can be stylish.
Recently, I have been intrigued by the white wines of the Loire Valley in France. These wines will surely take anyone out of their comfort zone. Sauvignon Blanc’s worldwide fame stems from the Eastern Loire and can be found on labels under the designations “Sancerre” and “Pouilly Fume”. In the middle of this region, Chenin Blanc takes the spotlight under the specified name, “Vouvray” and will be the focus of my featured wine mentioned below. Chenin Blanc, a varietal known for high acidity with aromatic flavors of pear and citrus, can also be found in regions of South Africa. Vouvray can range from very dry (sec), medium dry(demi-sec), medium sweet (moelleux), to very sweet (doux). Interestingly, a high level of sugar can offset the acid in a wine and actually taste dry.
From my experience, acidic wines truly shine when paired with food. A rich and creamy sauce will stand up against the acidity and the marriage of aromas between apricot, lime, honey and pear will add a polished elegance that no other white can compete with. For a gourmet pairing, I immediately rewind to a few years ago eating baked oysters with bacon and a Hollandaise sauce on the San Clemente pier in California. The delicacy of the fish and complexity of the sauce would be phenomenal with a medium dry Vouvray. For more of an everyday dish, I think of chicken slow baked in a white wine, lemon, herb marinade with fettucine alfredo and roasted asparagus.
When I decide to go out in a sassy dress with cowboy boots, funky earrings I bought at a street market in NYC, a vintage belt my mom gave me from her twenties, and a purse I found at an antique store, I have as much fun as one of those vibrant women on Sex and the City. For some reason, my dancing shoes come on and my night has an exciting glow that would not exist had I been wearing jeans and a tee-shirt. Give your taste buds a dance party, and try a Vouvray with one of these exciting dishes.