Vine Geeks Unite! And Stuff I'm Geekin' On

Wine geeks, cork dorks, oenophiles, and winos: Welcome to our little corner of Chow Bella.

It's here that you'll find weekly dispatches from the wine universe or at least the very small part of that universe that I humbly inhabit. It was over a decade ago that I came to the realization that in order to make money in the restaurant business, I had to learn about wine.

Since then, the money part of my equation has been replaced by a deep love and respect for all things vinous. I've learned a lot along the way, I even earned some letters to tack on to the end of my name when I passed the Society of Wine Educators Certified Specialist of Wine test a few years ago.

But the two most important things I've learned are that wine is a humbling pursuit and also that above all the books, maps, seminars, tastings and learning, wine is simply fun.

See also: Romancing the Grape: Pavle Milic's Mission to Make Wine

It's with that in mind that I'll bring you news, info, the occasional opinion, and a healthy dose of wisecracks on a weekly basis. I hope you enjoy it, and by all means call me out when I'm wrong, give me props when I'm right, ask questions, and let's celebrate wine together.

Each month, I will highlight a couple of wines in this space that I'm geekin' on. These will be wines that I've recently discovered, or that I've revisited and fell back in love with. So without further ado, here's the juice that I'm all about this month.

From Sicily comes an esoteric wine made from the grape frappato. Typically, the light aromatic frappato is blended with its more masculine and well-known cousin nero d'avola in a wine called Cerasuolo di Vittoria, produced on the southeastern coast of Sicily. However, there are some producers who bottle frappato on its own. Single varietal frappato is light, with very low tannin and a pronounced herbal quality that really distinguishes it.

The first time I tasted a frappato, it reminded me of good Beaujolais but with even less tannin. It's not easy to find, but when you do, it's best served slightly chilled so throw it in the fridge for a half hour and enjoy it with lighter foods or all by itself.

Spanish white Albarino is my other pick this month. Rias Baixas is Albarino's homeland on the northwestern coast of Spain. Like the northwestern U.S., Rias Baixas is known for rain and great seafood. Albarino is a perfect complement to that seafood, it is medium-bodied, with soft citrus, like Meyer lemon curd, in addition to apricot and peach. The best ones have a flowery, honeysuckle nose that is really charming.

Albarino is relatively easy to find, most wine retailers will a have at least a handful of affordable bottles of this Spanish gem. Albarino also works really well as a cooking wine, by that I mean the wine you drink while you're cooking.

When I'm not writing this column, or reading vintage charts to my daughter, you can find me pouring wine at FnB.

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Nathan Claiborn
Contact: Nathan Claiborn