La Dolce Vita: Playing the pairing game

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I chilled a bottle of Ruby Tuesday Pinot Gris to take to our dinner hosts on Sunday evening. The meal would include prawns, I knew, so the Pinot Gris would likely work quite nicely.

Then came the phone call.

“Do you still watch the hockey games?” I was asked. The caller, our dinner hostess, asked because the Canuck-Sharks game was scheduled to coincide with our invitation and she knows we don’t have cable or satellite in our home.

“Sure,” I said. “I can watch most of the games on my computer.”

“How are we going to plan dinner when you guys want to watch the game?” she asked.

“We can just dash downstairs to check on the game once in a while,” I suggested.

Her husband had other plans. The game was on when we arrived and he and I settled in — there would be no dashing downstairs to check on the progress of the Western Conference final’s first game. We were there for the duration and dinner would have to wait.

We were well into the second period of the game when my friend showed me a couple of bottles of wine. They were both from Bordeaux, gifts from the parents of a Rotary exchange student we each had staying in our homes several years ago. Choose one, he said.

We continued watching the very entertaining game, a great change from the smothering style that Nashville used to almost derailed the Canucks. Opening the bottle and pouring the wine was assigned to one of the non-game watchers in the house.

From the first sip, I was in love with the wine. It was a grand cru from the Saint-Emilion region of Bordeaux and had a long, smooth finish to complement the bone-dry, earthy flavours

The wine was from Chateau Grand-Corbin-Despagne, which has a long history, even by Bordeaux standards. The family’s presence in the area dates back to 1655 and grapevines were planted on the present-day property about 200 years ago. To be sure, this is not one of the legendary premiere grand cru estates, and its wines do not command prices of several hundred dollars or more. But Chateau Grand-Corbin-Despagne produces some very nice wines at affordable prices.

Interesting to note that the wine in our bottle had only 12.5 per cent alcohol, a couple per cent lower than one would expect from a New World wine containing 75 per cent Merlot. That is purely a reflection on the vineyard’s climate and location—there was absolutely no sweetness whatsoever in this wine, while a hotter region in the US or Australian version would produce a wine with more than 14 per alcohol and still have traces of sweetness.

We clinked our glasses and sipped our way through the third period, managing not to spill a drop while we cheered for the Canuck’s tying, then winning, goals. In this case the pairing of a very nice Bordeaux happened to match perfectly with the Canuck’s ninth of the necessary 16 wins to take the Stanley Cup.

Declaring the wine to be a good omen, I jokingly asked my friend if he could come up with seven more bottles, one for each of the wins we hope the Canucks have left in them this year. It wasn’t until that comment that I noticed the bottle offered another good luck omen. The vintage was 1994, the last time the Canucks were in the Stanley Cup final.

Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.