Remember those old school wines – Mateus, Blue Nun, etc.? Those wines revisited!
on 15/11/11 at 7:59 amWine
Remember those college wine and cheese parties of the late sixties and seventies, where almost no one cared about vintage or varietal? Where hearty Burgundy, Chablis, and cold duck were better known than Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Merlot, and names like Mateus, Ingelnook, and Almaden were more familiar than Mondavi, Beringer, and Caymus? Where screw caps were more popular than corks–except for straw- covered Chianti flasks, which were prized more for use as candleholders than for their contents.
Of course there was the food: cubes of Swiss, cheddar, and Gouda were mandatory, as were Triscuits and Ritz crackers. For fancier affairs, we may have splurged on port wine cheese in a crock or in nut-encrusted balls, and perhaps we even took out the Carrs and the Stone Wheats.
During these “unenlightened” years, our only sources for wine information were the glossy holiday liquor store catalogs that also served as bartenders guides and maybe an article in Esquire or Playboy, but even those were a stretch. Somehow we all sort of knew that one drank reds with meat and whites with fish. Possibly, when affecting more sophistication and daring to spend five or six dollars for a bottle of French wine, we followed the maxim “even years were better for reds” (or was it odd years?).
Well, that’s how I remember my happy days and, having just turned fifty, I find myself waxing nostalgic for the “care-free” years of young sophistication–before 100 point scores from the Wine Spectator and amuse gueules from Martha Stewart. So recently, while reminiscing with some graduate school friends, I thought why not attempt to recreate one of those parties and bring our now well-trained palates and more sensitive noses to the wines of yore.
Finding the wines was easier than I thought it would be. I went to a local wine super store on the highway (was I subconsciously embarrassed to purchase these selections from my regular wine merchant?) and there they were. The Almaden stood proud in its uniquely shaped half gallon jug and the Gallo Hearty Burgundy, once available only in jugs, now came in 750ml bottles. Close by I found an Inglenook Chablis (which now also comes in a “lite” style). Mateus and Lancers shared the same shelf with other sparklers. The “Wide World of Wines” aisle housed the German trio of Liebfraumilch, Zeller Schwartze Katz, and Blue Nun (newly habited in a blue bottle) as well as the Spanish Sangre de Toro, still sporting its miniature plastic bull around its neck.