This week’s column will tackle the subjects of how to remove the transmission in a 1970 Pontiac GTO with the help of port tongs and the interesting connection between the wines of Barolo and the 3-4 defensive scheme used by the Green Bay Packers.
I will completely understand if many of my female readers take a rain check this time. I’ll see you in a couple weeks with less overtly masculine themes.
When General Motors beefed up its power plant for the 1970 GTO, it presented engineers with a unique opportunity to utilize transmission technology dating back to the early 1960s….
OK, fellas. I think we are alone now. What I really wanted to talk to you about today is one of the most stressful situations American males face every year: ordering the wine for your Valentine’s Dinner. If you blow this important call, you can expect the dreaded “eye roll of disappointment.” Many a ego never fully recover from this menacing glance.
What’s a guy to do?
Fortunately, the situation is not as bad as it once was. Enlightened servers realize the most able wine selector at your table may be your wife/girlfriend/female companion. In these situations, you’re off the hook.
However, most of the time, us guys are handed the anxiety-producing list of wines. While wine lists, especially lengthy ones, can be stressful, we can take precautions to lower the threat level without attending wine school.
First and foremost, you have an ally in the dining room. The sommelier, sometimes called the wine steward, is not there to fleece you or compound the pressure. Wine can be complicated and multi-page lists pose a daunting challenge to those holding that list—even for those with years of experience in the wine business. These dining room wine professionals can steer you away from ordering the Mateus Rosé with your lamb chops and toward something you will both love that is in your budget.
“But the restaurant we’re going to doesn’t have a wine steward,” you might say. First of all, stop your whining. And second, there will definitely be a maitre d’ or lead server who knows the wine list. It won’t kill you to ask for their help.
If you want to impress her with your wallet, your choice will be easy. Just choose Opus One, Silver Oak or Caymus Special Selection and be done with it. Please recognize you’ll be paying a premium for this default option and you better both be ordering the steak because these full-bodied wines don’t play well with lighter fare.
Now, if you want to impress her with your brain and discerning taste, there are categories and types of wines to look for on the list. Many of these selections are considered “cross-over” wines, medium-bodied reds and whites that are easy to like and pair nicely with a wide range of foods.
Most pinot noirs can handle anything from a light pasta dish to a filet mignon. Ask your server to suggest one in your price range. Argentine Malbecs, Chiantis and other red wines from Tuscany fall in this category, too. For the advanced player, ask if your restaurant offers any cool-climate syrahs.
As for whites, you can easily choose a buttery chardonnay, but I find many of them not particularly food-friendly. You could go for a white Burgundy, however, or a sauvignon blanc from Sancerre, France, or an Austrian grüner veltliner. These wines range from crisp and clean to subtly smoky and creamy. The point is they will make your food selections swing, even if one of you orders the beef and the other goes for the Dover sole.
Now about that Packer 3-4 defense and what they need to do against a running quarterback like Colin Kaepernick…
Gil Kulers is a certified wine educator and a consultant for a metro-Atlanta wine shop. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.