Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wines From Parts of the World That I'm Not Very Familiar With

This post today is a small nod to my Russian readers of which, according to my stats, has been significant in the last few days.

I know, the quick consulting of a map tells me that Georgia is NOT Russia...and Hungary is certainly not Russia.  Forgive me.

What do I know about Georgian and Hungarian wine?  Nothing.  When I wander into a store in my state's capital city called "European Flavors", it takes about 3 seconds to realize I'm not in, Iowa, anymore.  Most of the foodstuff items in this store are wrapped in colorful papers and printed with a language I do not understand.  Oh, I have enough wherewithal to know that I'm probably looking at some kind of Russian or Turkish or Greek.

Some kind of middle European anyway.

In regards to wine, I like German Riesling, so I'm browsing the shelves, and luckily, the wine section is clearly marked out by country, and I do know enough to find myself a Riesling.  The bottle is in my hand when a hearty voice befriends me, "Are you finding everything all right?"  I turn, and there's the owner, a portly older gentleman (early 50s, maybe) wearing a Bela Karolyi-type moustache...and speaking with a similar accent.

He kindly informs that if I'm looking for semi-sweet, I could do way better than German.  After all, he claims, Germans add sugar to their semi-sweets, where this Georgian wine here is just as sweet, but there's no sugar added - it's the natural sweetness of the grape.  That was the Khvanchkara...supposedly the favorite wine of Joseph Stalin.  The Furmint on the left is one of the store's better-selling semi-sweet white.  I buy both, because hey, I'm kind of a sucker like that.  And because the guy's nice, showing me various products and letting me taste a sunflower-seed goody like halva and Irish cheddar cheese.

As it turns out, the Khvanchkara is good by itself, but much better with dark chocolate.  There's definite cherry on the palate, and I'm looking forward to trying it with some meat and cheese later in the week.  The Furmint is similar, decent by itself, but very good with chicken.

It's funny, though, European semi-sweet is WAAAAAY different from American semi-sweet.  I feel kind of like I'm finally drinking "the real thing".

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