This is the weekly installment of Fabulous Friday Feasts: a collaboration between Aimee Plesa, the Middletown Food Examiner, and Timothy Gabelman, the Cincinnati Wine Pairing Examiner. We are working hard together to deliver a delicious meal experience, from beginning to end, for both of our audiences. We hope you enjoy!
When one thinks of St. Patrick’s Day traditions, one may imagine a pint of Guinness (perhaps at Shady O’Grady’s Pub) or, if one is of a certain generation, the bacchanalian upheaval of Green Beer Day at Miami University (which this year, resulted in this). It would be the odd oenophile that might think of uncorking a bottle of wine for this night of pseudo-Gaelic celebrations, when “everyone is Irish,” but when did being a oenophile make one conventional?
In discussing “green wine” one could be speaking of several wine varietals that when translated have a green connotation. One could also be discussing the process of growing and making organic wines. Or one may be discussing a traditional Irish wine, though one that is decidedly less green.
In the Minho region of Portugal a white wine is being made that has caught some recent attention in the wine world. Known as Vinho Verde (or literally, “Green Wine,” from its youthful notes, not from any color), this wine is semi-sparkling white packed with refreshing acids. Generally considered a very food-friendly wine, Vinho Verde would be a terrific accompaniment to a simple salad, fresh bread, or a light seafood dish as may be served in an appetizer course.
Vinho Verde wines are available at Jungle Jim’s in Fairfield.
From the Medoc region of Bordeaux comes Petit Verdot (literally, “the little green one”), a wine varietal typically used in blending traditional Bordeaux wimes to ass tannin, color, and flavor, but which has recently been grown in the New World to be bottled alone. Petit Verdot wines exhibit aromas of banana and pencil lead with strong violet and leather flavors. This wine could easily be paired with a shepherd’s pie, that was heavily spiced, or even with the traditional lamb dishes of St. Patrick’s Day.
Green Wines may also refer to the process of growing and manufacturing wines in an organic manner. Historically, vineyard management encouraged the heavy use of various herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides and since the grape is a relatively thin-skinned fruit, studies have shown that known cancer-causing chemicals have been found in wine. Thanks to new models of farming, organic and biodynamic agricultural processes are catching on in various parts of the world. Currently, there are just over 450 wineries that have been certified as biodynamic growers and producers while there are many examples of “certified organic wines” commonly available. Whole Foods Market, for example, features Bonterra Winery and wines from Frey Vineyards, which claims to be the first organic winery in the U.S.
Finally, though the Irish may be better known for beer and whiskey, they have a long history of producing a rather unique wine known as Meade (or Mead). Meade is a wine made from the fermentation of honey, rather than grapes, and is a very sweet, honey-tasting, unctuous wine. While not traditionally paired with chocolate, a great Meade would be an interesting accompaniment to dark chocolate notes.
Locally, Valley Vineyards Winery makes and sells mead, and is readily available at my own Kroger (in Loveland). Check out their new website!
There is nothing wrong with celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a hearty pint of stout or a shot of Bushmills Irish Whiskey, but do not feel that one is obligated to do so. The great joy in celebrating other cultures is in recognizing the hint of sameness that we feel in connection with all of humanity. So, enjoy a “green wine” in whichever way you may perceive the concept, and always feel free to shout, “Kiss me! I’m Irish” even if you’re not!
For some amazing recipes, food shopping recommendations, and money-saving tips, please visit Aimee’s page and remember to have a wonderful and safe St/ Patrick’s Day!
To receive notice when new articles post to the Cincinnati Wine Pairing Examiner page, please use the “Subscribe” button just below the headline of this article. You can also follow me on Twitter! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!