As a child, I didn’t know the meaning of the word “bored.” I thank the 80s and a wicked good imagination for this. Alone much of the time (I was a latchkey kid who surprised my parents a decade after they were told they’d never get pregnant and had adopted twice) my nose was always in a book. Sometimes it was a novel. The rest of the time it was a notebook. They now occupy the shelf of my closet. Storytelling is in my DNA. I can rattle off a good yarn and will tell your stories better than you tell them yourself.
But lately? I’m bored. I imagine I’m bored in the same way you are. It’s boredom borne of distraction. An article in Vogue told me I can’t read because my brain is constantly assessing the threats around me. I’ve never read an article in Vogue before. But this was so enlightening that I will now. Not any time soon, though. I can’t read. I can’t write. Everything is interrupted by my brain spinning out of control but don’t ask me the messages it’s flashing. I’m too distracted to read them. I’m so distracted that I can’t do anything. And so I am bored.
But the other night, thanks to my friends at Cuvee & Co., I fought boredom. I fought boredom with Bordeaux and I cannot recommend enough that you do the same.
Bordeaux, Your Fav Basic Boo
Calm down. I don’t think Bordeaux is basic in the sense of pumpkin spice and Target. But I do think it’s a wine that can be enjoyed every day alongside easy meals. For about a year now it’s been my go-to appellation for reds and whites, including sweet wines.
Arguably, some of the world’s best wines come from Bordeaux. But that doesn’t mean you should only save it for special occasions. In fact, you should enjoy it soon. I enjoyed three bottles of “Bordeaux” this week to complement pretty standard dinner fare. And by pairing these wines with meals that didn’t require a ton of work I was able to truly entrench myself in them. Something I needed. So, come with me and get ready to plan your next grocery run so that you, too, can fight boredom with Bordeaux.
All of the wines I enjoyed were Domaines Baron de Rothschild (Lafite).
Just The Facts, Ma’am
Because this is a post about enjoying Bordeaux every day, it’s geared at those who don’t have a deep education and experience in wine. Those of you who are certified winos, skip to the pairings to have your socks knocked off!
When it comes to red Bordeaux, there are a few things to keep in mind:
The wines are blends. If you’re already a wine person you know the specifics but a good way to start learning Bordeaux for those newer to wine is that red Bordeaux is going to be Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot majority. White wines are also blends in Bordeaux, primarily Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
The reds are BIG. Red Bordeaux blends stand up really well to food, especially meats and fattier dishes because they have lots of tannins and bold aromas and flavors. Pair these with meats and cheeses!
The wines are labeled by geography, not grape. French wine is often labeled by the geographic area. Don’t worry, you don’t have to memorize the maps. Just carry your phone with you and Google it! It’s fine.
Here’s what you should know about white Bordeaux:
They’re blends. You’ll find mostly Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon.
They come in dry and sweet versions. Sauternes is the ruler of sweet Bordeaux whites but the dry ones, especially from Entre-Deux-Mers, are beautiful, finessed whites any fan of Sauv Blanc, Chablis or Pinot Gris should seek out.
Pairing 1: Pauillac Bordeaux and Burgers
Pauillac is located in the Médoc which is on the left bank. These wines are predominantly Cabernet which means lots of tannins. Tannic wines have a gritty feeling and are great with red meat. While you could have a steak, I enjoyed this with a burger from a local restaurant. I’m doing what I can to support our local restaurant industry during this crazy time.
The specific wine I had was the Moulin de Duhart 2017, which is nearly a 50/50 split of Cabernet and Merlot.
It’s everything a left bank Bordeaux should be: deep aromas of black currant and plum, with pencil shavings and hints of scrubby low-lying plants covering a path. Meant to be enjoyed young, the fruit is beautiful but doesn’t overpower the complex underlying note of cedar (think cigar box). While tannic, the tannins are beautifully incorporated and kept my palate fresh while enjoying a medium-rare burger. I went light on the cheese so that I could focus on the savory flavor of the beef and the interplay between the fat and tannins. You could absolutely top it with other things including swiss and onions. Saute those onions in some duck fat and balsamic and thank me later.
Do not skip the fries. Do skip the ketchup.
This wine is readily available and it’s vital to support your local wine shop now more than ever. If you cannot find it locally, email me and I’ll help you track down a bottle online. This is an exceptional bottle and a great value at around $60. Do not let this one sit to age, it’s singing now.
Notes: Store red Bordeaux on its side in a dark, cool place. If you have a wine fridge, awesome. Do not leave it standing up on your counter. You’ll want to enjoy this wine at around 65°. I recommend just popping it in the fridge for about 20 minutes prior to serving. You can decant for a half hour if you have a decanter but a bottle-top aerator pourer works fine, too. Enjoy it as it warms up.
Pairing 2: White Bordeaux and Pizza
One thing I’ve learned about quarantine is that everyone is developing their skills. I have a music-teacher friend learning to code, a laid off office manager friend who has taken up ukulele, and Kris with a K has dived into the world of pizza making. We decided to go against the typical white Bordeaux pairing and have it with pizza.
White Bordeaux is incredible. It’s a delightful mix of citrusy Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. Sauv Blanc is a favorite of many wine drinkers but this isn’t the super grapefruity version common in Australia. Expect more floral notes. Semillon brings body to these wines but because Bordeaux is a cooler climate, you’ll still get the flavors of lemon and lime zest. In warmer climates Semillon is creamier and leans toward beautifully ripe papaya and mango with hints of lemon curd. But here, in Bordeaux, it’s more about zip with some heft.
We drank a DBR white Bordeaux from their Legende R line which is pretty freaking awesome. Why? First: there’s a woman at the helm of Legende R. Second: it’s everyday Bordeaux. You can find these for about $12 but because they are from a high-quality Bordeaux producer it won’t taste like a $12 wine. We enjoyed this before our pizza, and it just exploded with zippy fresh flavors of citrus and herb while having a satisfying weight that held up to the pizza (it was a simple NY-style with a simple sauce, low-moisture mozzarella and nothing else) and was especially delightful after dinner once it was even warmer. The aromas really came out to play then with florals taking center stage. I was floored by the gorgeous notes of honeysuckle. This is one to be savored and while it doesn’t require food, something simple is great with it.
If you’re not sure about the tomato on the pizza (it’s a lot of acidity) I recommend a simple arugula salad with olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan. This is also a sushi wine.
Pairing #3: Chilean Chardonnay and a Melted Face
I’m not sure I’m ready to talk about this. If you saw my Insta story the night we had the pizza you know that I have added this wine to my top five sips of all time. That’s saying a lot. I taste a TON of wine.
Cuvee & Co. sent me this enigma and I am singing about it from the rooftops. It’s DBR, a known, historic Bordeaux producer. But this wine is from Chile. And it’s Chardonnay. It’s under $10. And it is mind-blowingly good.
Imagine clementines with a good amount of the pith still on you put in a bowl where you just had a few pineapple chunks. Then you left them to sit while got get the mail. Add to that the memory of banana and melon. The wine has beautifully balanced acidity but also delightful creaminess. But not in that overly buttery way of mass-produced California Chardonnay. It’s instead a beautifully finessed example of just how versatile Chardonnay can be.
Enjoy this one with good tunes and someone you like. Or, honestly, alone over a two-day span.
Bordeaux: The Boredom Buster
Bordeaux is complex and varied. It might not sound like the kind of thing you want to explore at a time when your brain is screaming “DANGER WILL ROBINSON!” on repeat. But these three bottles brought me such comfort this week.
These are hard times. For everyone. No matter their situation. I’m a resilient 42-year-old who lived in NYC for 9/11 and it didn’t prepare me for this. I’m still having what I call a “trauma response.” I’m having trouble focusing. My writing is spluttering and stopping more than the 1980 VW Rabbit I drove into the ground in the 90s. I miss my friends but talking to them over Zoom sometimes makes it worse. While I’m not a complete wreck, I am not myself.
These three bottles of made life feel normal for a few nights. They allowed me to be stop being distracted and instead be delighted. I hope you choose to seek them out and that the same happens to you. Hang in there.
“…we were always hoping that, looking back you could always rely on a friend.”