Columnist vows to remove the ‘mystery’ shrouding fine wines!

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This column marks the beginning of a new series about wine, which County Compass editor Jeff Aydelette has indicated he would like to publish every three weeks or so. It has been awhile since I have written anything and I am looking forward to diving back into the world of wine!

Since I first started writing these articles about six years ago, the circulation of the newspaper has grown dramatically. It now reaches more than 20,000 readers each week! This is a terrific opportunity to introduce wine — and wine pairings — to a much larger audience.


My goal is to cover a large number of formats concerning the history of wine: What wine is; taste profiles of various wine grapes; how to pick a wine out of the hundreds of bottles in the typical wine store, the more common ‘big box’ store, or the more modest individually owned store

In addition, I will be working on a wine to food pairing list, which will be placed in the County Compass website archives for your future reference.


I will also be writing about individual grape varietals, production of wine in various countries and why the same grape can produce different tasting wine. There will be articles about wines produced in North Carolina combined with comparisons of our wines with those from other states.

When I first started to savor wine, the wine world was dominated by European wines, especially those from France. Along with this domination, there were a series of “rules” for wine and food pairings, which went back for hundreds of years. These rules are now (at best) guidelines — such as the familiar Red wine with red meat, and White wine with fish and poultry. The new mantra is drink what you like!

My goal is to take the mystery out of wine and provide my readers with a great wine experience whether you are having “porch sipping wine” or something to enjoy with food. It is possible to find decent wines in the $7 to $18. The wines I intend to describe will usually fall somewhere in the middle of that price range, except for those cherished ‘special occasion’ wines!

You may or may not be aware that wine varietals move in cycles. Many years ago, Chardonnay was the wine of choice for most wine drinkers. It was tasty, affordable and readily available. A number of years later, Merlot became the wine of choice until the movie Sideways came out about 13 years ago. Merlot is just now starting to make a comeback. Merlot is very ‘fruit-forward’ with some tannins to give it backbone and is also relatively inexpensive and readily available.


Moving closer to the present Moscato became the darling of the day starting about four years ago. It showed exceptional growth due to affordability, ease of drinking and the fact that it was bubbly didn’t hurt at all. Although still popular, Moscato is competing with the next innovation in the wine world – Meritage, which is a wine term for blend and wine makers have been  blending wines for centuries.

A notable example of blend would be Bordeaux from France, combining  Cabernet Sauvignon with a small percentage of Merlot and sometimes Cabernet Franc or Petit Verdot.

Which brings us to the present!  The wine now commanding a lot of attention (with sales moving up smartly) is Rose. This is not the Rose that you remember from years ago such as Lancers in the cute clay bottle but rather a more sophisticated version being produced all over the world.

If you have been to a wine section of the supermarkets recently, you might notice that the Rose selection has gone from a couple of bottles to eight or nine different offerings. Although I have been drinking Rose’s for a long time, I found one recently that I particularly recommend!

It is called Dark Horse Rose — part of a family of decently priced drinkable wines that you would be happy to serve your family and friends. The Dark Horse Rose is a half dry Rose, which means it isn’t too sweet. It pairs with many types of food from Burgers to Salads. This could be your Summer porch ‘sippin’ wine; as it can stand alone without food. The price is right at about $8.

If you find you like it, wait for the Harris Teeter 20 % off case sale. And, if you are old enough go on Thursday and get another 5% senior discount. Those two tricks get the cost per bottle down to about $6.50 – a great deal!

If you have questions or comments, or if there is a topic that would like for me to tackle, I can be reached via e-mail: