Last week Heather and I went to Trader Joe’s wine shop. If you’ve never been, you’re doing yourself a disservice. For decent wine you really can’t beat the prices at Trader Joe’s. They have their own label that goes for about $2.99—three buck chuck as it’s known—but they also have middle of the road stuff and some pretty primo stuff too. Normally we select our wine very carefully. We take the time to come up with a list of options, compare labels, and try to make an educated guess on what wine will bring the greatest amount of joy into our lives. This was not one of those situations. The line at Trader Joe’s was so long that it went most of the length of the store. We decided we would get in line and then pick wines off the shelf as we go. However the line moved pretty fast so we just selected wines somewhat randomly. We were conscious of the type of wine and the cost, but that was about it. Two of them were whites that we enjoyed at a friend’s dinner party, but we also ended up with a red that we saved for later.
We tried the Stonehedge Petit Syrah. The label stood out to me. I think we picked it because we thought it said Stonehenge, like the ancient monument in England. But as it turns out, it’s just a hedge made of stone. I think I was also fooled by the bottle. It’s black with gold etching. It looks kind of mysterious, like it was forged in a volcano or something. It’s misleading—is what I’m saying. Once we finally did try it, I popped the cork and was hit with an intense bouquet. It was really fruity and almost tart. Kind of like a blackberry. I poured it and gave it a few minutes to breathe. Wines have to breathe I’m told. I guess they’ll suffocate or something. I tried it and the berry notes were still there but they were much more subtle than anticipated. They played it very quiet and cool at first. They were the alcoholic equivalent of the guy in West Side Story who tells action to take it easy. That guy was so cool. Anyway, once I was lulled into complacency I was surprised with a pleasant burst of fruitiness with rich tannins and a clean finish.
I’ve read that Petit Syrah goes really well with steak. We did not have steak; we happened to be having ratatouille. (We also ate it while watching the movie Ratatouille. That's a true story.) It was delicious but part of me wanted some protein to complement the wine. I get so spoiled sometimes. A white probably would have gone better with the meal, but it was very good for what it was. Plus the movie Ratatouille complements any red wine.
I guess the moral of the story is to take chances in life—live on the edge. That’s my motto. If we didn’t just pick a wine because we were rushed, we wouldn’t have wound up with a surprising and interesting wine. I encourage you all to do the same. Take a risk. Send your gas bill in a week late. What are they going to do? Shut off your heat? Maybe you can pick a fight with a really big guy. He’ll probably back down and everyone around will be really impressed. Or just go to Atlantic city with the deed to your house and bet it all on red…no black…black’s luckier.