Wine belongs on a table with almost every meal—or every meal—as an integral part of the meal. It is a staple in same way vegetables, rice, potatoes, protein, and water are part of a meal.
Wine plays two roles.
First, wine complements other food. A good wine pairing elevates a meal. To be sold on this idea all you need do is experience one time how chardonnay balances spicy soup, Oregon pinot noir enhances salmon steak, California cab takes Texas ribeye to the next level, crisp New Zealand sauv blanc augments sautéd green veggies, or Texas tempranillo fandangos with tacos and chile relleno.
Enlightened households around the world have understood this for millennia. The issue was settled before ink dried on the Old Testament.
Modern science reinforces what Biblical characters knew. Moderate intact of wine has health benefits for many. Excess is a health threat, true, but excess in anything has negative consequences.
The second role wine plays at mealtime is lubricating social interaction, and social interaction is essential to a memorable meal.
This complementary element of wine also has been known for thousands of years. It smooths edges of a rough day, burnishes bonhomie, puts life into perspective with each pour. There is reason bread and wine are central sacraments of Christian religion: bread is buoy for the body, wine is succor for the spirit.
And, then, wine is more. It offers opportunity for connoisseurship and artisanal excellence. It flirts with philosophy. It can caress the better angels of our nature, bewitch us with its transcendental pleasures, inspire us with its magnificent marriage of soil, climate, plants, and the skillful employ of human hands and minds. It can be art. It has been culture since time out of memory.
Embrace human history, enjoy wine with your meal tonight.
• Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2014: Great acidity, astonishing value. $9
• Toad Hollow Unoaked Chardonnay Mendocino County Francine’s Selection 2014: Zingy (3.44 pH), light, clean, crisp. $13-15
• Willamette Valley Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir 2015: Substantive rosé, not soda pop wannabe. $24
Last round: Some days I handle everything pretty well. For all the many other days, I thank God for wine.
Facebook: Gus Clemens on Wine.