There’s a reason pinot noir is known as the heartbreak grape. Every decision in the growing, harvesting, crushing. pressing – the entire winemaking process – shows up in the final product. The wrong pruning, the wrong yeast selection, too muck oak, too little oak – it’s all there for the world to taste and, alas, pay too much money for most of the time.
And there is a lot of bad pinot out there these days, with high alcohol contents – we came across one a bit back that listed its total alcohol at 15 percent. That’s nuts for a delicate wine like pinot noir. The good news is that if you do find a good one, pinot is a very versatile food wine.
The other good news is that Schug makes some wonderful pinots, including a sparkling rose. There are also the Sonoma and the Caneros pinots, with the Sonoma being only slightly better than the Carneros. But that may have been because the Sonoma is twelve dollars cheaper.
The Sonoma is steel-femented to keep as much of the fruit as possible, giving the wine a rich nose of roses and red berries. The 13.5 percent alcohol was also wise – like we noted above, high alcohol pinots are bad. There was some spicy character in addition to the dry fruit which made for an excellent balance.
We not only bought a bottle, but when we went out to celebrate our recent anniversary at one of the nicer restaurants in our neck of the woods, we brought that bottle to enjoy. And enjoy it we did. Anne had a lovely pork tenderloin, while Michael indulged his yen for salmon. Better yet, because Michael was nice enough to share a taste with the waiter, the waiter was nice enough to forget to charge us for the corkage fee.
Many restaurants will let you bring your own wine, but they do charge a fee, called corkage. Do note, however, that it’s not cool to bring a wine they restaurant has on its list, nor is it cool to bring the local bargain brand. Bring something special and unusual, and they usually don’t mind, especially if you buy some of their wine.