Yes, a simple $10 wine can make me happy!

Maybe it's only me... but it seems that the "hardcore" wino crowd who know the skinny on every vintage for every premium region in France and Italy from all brand-name producers have settled on their favorites, and it would take 7.0 earthquake to shake them out of their established circle of "acceptable" wines.

I guess the question is - if one can afford to drink nothing but high-end Burgundy and Barolo, does it mean a simple Chianti or Dolcetto should never grace their lips? Gentlemen (and ladies), please stop posturing - your wine snootiness is no fun.

I for one am happy to munch on a simple charcuterie with a glass of exceedingly enjoyable Portuguese red for $10, my joy only slightly marred by watching 49ers give away yet another game.

Dow's Vale Do Bomfim Reserva Douro, 2005, 13% alcohol - made from 45% Touriga Franca, 20% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) and 5% Tinta Barroca grape varieties. Smooth, ripe, fruity but not too fruity, infinitesimally spicy, and pleasantly tart, very balanced, approachable and easy drinking - a perfect match for mortadella, salumi (custom-aged in my wine cellar), Bra Duro cheese from Piedmont, rustic baguette, and black olives (that remind me of Lagrein from Northeast Italy), on a cool sunny November afternoon in Palo Alto... life is gewd!

Sipping this very satisfying red, I had a vision of beef short ribs in a crockpot with chopped onions and carrots, stewed in my secret sauce that included (drumroll please....) - a glass of this very wine. It was going to take 6 hours of slow simmer, just enough for the charcuterie and cheese to settle down in ma belly, and the memory of the 49ers' defeat to become merely a distant irritation...

Few hours later, as the darkness and cold of the evening descended upon us, I warmed up a batch of creamy polenta, smothered it with the short rib stew, and served with the Portuguese red, which naturally was perfect with that dish. A slice of the creamy and tangy Boschetto al Tartufo cheese (with tiny specks of truffle) completed the ensemble - voila!

Oh, that simple red - I took it places it had never dreamed of, and both of us ended up all better for it!


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