Why have a cellar? Besides the fact that it satisfies the urge to hoard and gloat over one’s possessions (as anyone who has a basement cellar knows, nothing quite beats the thrill of ducking down stairs to admire racks and racks of drinkable possibilities), the reason I like to have a cellar is so that I can cook anything for dinner. Not that I get fancy all that often, mind you, but when an epiphany strikes (Osso Bucco! Duck l’Orange! Something not frozen!) one of the worst* feelings imaginable is knowing you spent all day cooking dinner and…you have no wine to go with it.
Nonetheless, as I mull over dinner tonight the possibilities are not as endless as I’d like. I am not lucky enough to have a cellar today – what I have is an off-site storage locker and a small wine rack in my stair closet.
What I try to keep in my limited closet space is wine that will pair well with a variety of foods. I like to think I have a lot of Champagne, but the truth is that Champagne is so tasty and versatile that it is the first to go. Today, I think I have a lone bottle of Pierre Peters down there. The rest is a motley assortment of Cru Beaujolais, Loire Valley whites, Riesling, and the odd Italian wine.
So what is a poor gal to do?
When in doubt, open the Cru Beaujolais, I say. I haven’t even decided what to cook yet, but it doesn’t really matter – this should go with almost anything I can throw into a pan. I have not yet tried the 2011 version of M. Lapierre’s Morgon bottling, but I am a fan of this wine every year – it’s so fresh, vibrant, and pure. In general, I find Cru Beaujolais refreshingly uncomplicated by oak treatment and free of heavily sugarfied flavors from which many New World wines suffer. Plus, the low alcohol (12.5%, says this label, and I believe it) makes the quaff much more enjoyable to my palate. Since it is after 4 pm and I still haven’t thought of a menu, I am likely to do a fried egg on vegetables+leftover rice or somesuch peasant fare. And I expect this wine to elevate my rather pedestrian meal to something worth writing about.
*OK, so that feeling hardly compares to that which follows after allowing your one-year old to tumble into the (empty) bathtub while grabbing for a rubber toy as you folded laundry in the next room, but it still irks.