Have you ever looked at a wine list and wished it actually told you what the wine tastes like? Have you ever wanted wine connoisseurs to stop swirling and sniffing, and just take a big sip? Well, you’re not alone. And American craft wine, The Federalist, and Dan Dunn want to do something about it.
Dunn — media personality, former Playboy wine and spirits columnist and author of American Wino: A Tale of Reds, Whites and One Man's Blues — is on a mission in the name of all things craft to take the stuffiness out of wine, make it more approachable for men, and let people know it’s not about the glass you drink it out of, it’s what’s in it that matters. Better yet, buck tradition, ditch the fancy stemmed glass and grab a rocks glass.
"Bourbon barrel-aged wines are trending right now, and they are a great gateway for guys who typically drink craft beer and bourbon," says Dunn.
Forget everything you've heard about pairing wines with Brie and apples, he says. In the man's own words, here are Dunn's pairings with two things American guys are actually interested in: Elvis and meat.
1. With Elvis’ Christmas Album
Few endeavors make me happier during the holidays than listening to Elvis’ Christmas Album while sipping on The Federalist. I’ve got the pairings down to an art form. Here are a few:
“Here Comes Santa Claus” with the Honest Red Blend. Like Jolly Ol’ St. Nick, this North Coast California wine is timeless, big, red and revered. Don’t get naughty and lie to Santa, or he might not leave you a bottle of this delicious blend of merlot, zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon.
“White Christmas” with the chardonnay. Like Elvis’ voice, it's silky smooth and has big, rich fruit flavors.
2. With a big, juicy burger
After all of those holiday meals, guys really get a hankering for a burger. Think of a great hamburger as you would a classic artist such as Paul Simon. Both are something special on their own, but when paired with the right partner — be it a robust cabernet sauvignon or a spindly, curly-haired tenor from Queens — well, that’s when the real magic happens. Alas, Simon and Garfunkel called it quits a long time ago, but I’m happy to report that cab and burgers are still making beautiful music together.
3. With pork
The pig is indeed, as Homer Simpson once put it, “a wonderful, magical animal.” You should know going in, though, that pairing with pig is a delicate dance. You’re looking for subtlety here. Swinging around a bombastic red or a too-tart white can easily drown out the natural sweet and salty flavor of ham or the delicate middle notes of roast pork. A lot depends on how it’s been prepared.
For smoky roasted pork, a popular dish around the holidays, you can go with a little richer, heavier red — say, cabernet sauvignon — but try the same thing with a honey or maple-glazed ham and you’ve got a mouthful of clash. For sweeter preparations, think mid-bodied reds like a bourbon barrel-aged red blend, aged in charred bourbon barrels for 6 months, delivering a finish as smoky as it is smooth.
4. With lamb
Lamb is most often associated with Easter. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, eh? There promises to be plenty of lamb in the offing over these festive final weeks of the nothing-if-not-extraordinarily interesting year that was 2018. No matter how it’s cooked — grilled, braised or roasted — that rich, savory meat demands robust red wine at its side, like a nice zinfandel, with its larger-than-life berry fruit character.