WRITTEN BY PHILLIP SILVERSTONE
I have never written a column with recommendations for tipples to complement St. Patrick’s Day because I am of the opinion that March 17 should be left to the Irish to toast their patron saint.
Lá Fhéile Pádraig, “the Day of the Festival of Patrick,” celebrates his death in AD 461. And the “wearing of the green” dates back to the mid-17th century, but in the mid-18th century “The Friendly Brothers of St. Patrick” adopted it as their official color. However, it was changed to blue by the Order of St. Patrick, an Anglo-leaning group. Green once again became the color for Irish nationalism at the end of the 18th century as a display against English rule. And so, drinking yourself stupid on St. Paddy’s Day is, in my humble opinion, a bit insulting to the culture of a great nation who are often crassly stereotyped for their alcohol consumption and a most important day on the calendar is distilled into a global day of binge drinking.
I enjoy the poetry of drinking. Not necessarily the written poetry, but the traditional manners of drinking. The drinking etiquette. Whether it’s the “correct” hour to consume an alcoholic beverage, or the type of glass in which it is poured, or whether it’s the appropriate drink to embellish with fruit and ice cubes. I also enjoy the written poetry of drinking. In his collection of short stories titled “The Dubliners,” the great Irish novelist and poet James Augustine Aloysius Joyce wrote: “The light music of whisky falling into glasses made an agreeable interlude.” And so as St. Patrick’s Day approaches, let’s celebrate with “an agreeable interlude,” but let’s not disrespect the day by driving recklessly, being taken at great speed to the emergency room or sitting on a curb while our body rejects the vast amounts of alcohol forced into it in a torrent of disgusting eruption. In other words, my dear and most valued reader, drink in moderation and savor your beverage of choice. And if you need some guidance — and are devoted to the green theme — I have some suggestions for appropriate libations.
Domaine du Tariquet ‘Classic’ (Approx: $9.99) comes in a green glass bottle from Gascony, France. This is the region that produces Armagnac, and one of the grapes used in that particular brandy is Ugni Blanc, which is blended into this light, fruity and “green” tasting wine. There is a touch of Granny Smith’s crisp, biting tanginess, which flirts a little with the flavor of lime. The wine is outrageously affordable for the quality and satisfaction it gives, from the promise of its perfume to the kiss of its taste.
Despite my often arrogant dismissal of disastrous labels that clearly demonstrate the lack of marketing savvy by the wine producer’s management team, I adore the simplicity of the Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc packaging (Approx: $17.99). A green bottle with a blue screw cap and a strip label attached vertically, clearly and proudly stating the name of the winery, and punctuated by a red seal with the letter “M.” If you want to learn how to market your product, talk to the clever people at the reigns of Mulderbosch in South Africa. Not as much grapefruit as I would expect from the New Zealand version of this grape variety, but very enjoyable with notes of lemon peel and pepper and the welcome freshness of a spring Irish (via South Africa) morning. A wine that definitely leaves other wine producers green with envy.
One of my favorite drinking diversions from wine is the good old gin and tonic, more fondly known as a G&T. G’Vine Floraison Gin (Approx:: $39.99) is quite a surprise. My gin usually comes from Blighty, but this premium gin comes from Cognac, France! G’Vine Floraison is infused with the vine flower as well as more than nine different botanicals, including the traditional Juniper plus Cassia Bark and licorice, and the Ugni Blanc grape. This is a welcome heady, aromatic gin with a lot of floral and spice flavors and a very long, refreshing finish. And, I should note, a stunning package topped off with a green cap.
Phillip Silverstone’s column appears each week in this newspaper. “Time Out With Phillip Silverstone” is a weekly two-hour podcast heard exclusively on TuneIn radio anytime and anywhere worldwide either on the free TuneIn app for all smart phones and tablets (Search: Phillip Silverstone) or online on Tunein at: http://bit.ly/1gY2Ht4. “Follow” the show for weekly updates. You can also LIKE Phillip on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phillipsilverstone and follow him on Twitter: @wining