Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Review: My Rice and Beans Wine

I know what you're saying. "You're what wine? Drink a beer, stupid!"

Yes, beer is the go-to alcoholic beverage when simple, humble rice and beans is the meal at hand. But, somehow, no beer as ever hit the spot for me like this unprepossessing, mass market Spanish wine—Marques de la Villa Malvasia from the Toro region.

I discovered the wine by accident years ago. Most likely, I had less than $10 in my pocket, and that's why I went for it. (It still goes for less than a sawbuck.) My relative poverty at the time also probably explains why I had rice and beans the same night I opened this bottle. But the combination was an amazing success. With rice and beans, you don't want to overdo it. You don't need a fancy wine, or a complex one. You want a light quaffer. And the Malvasia is super simplistic. The palate is one-note citrus (they'll tell you tropical and pear as well, but I don't know), decent acidity, and a light, almost watery body. That may not sound particularly appealing ("watery"?), but it's elementary package of attributes works magic with a plate of black legumes, rice, cheese and maybe some hot peppers. Fresh food, fresh wine. It's a perfect marriage.

For a while, I was ashamed to mention this little secret, fearing the judgment of wine snobs. But then I noticed the wine in LeNell Smothers' erstwhile liquor shop in Red Hook. And what do you think? She said she told customers that the bottle was her rice and beans wine. I wasn't alone!

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