GRENACHE, SYRAH and mourvèdre historically paint the landscape of France from the Rhone Valley to Provence. Blended in various proportions, they make some of the most intriguing wines in the world. As Washington gets more comfortable with these grapes and how they each thrive in our sun and warmth, winemakers here get more comfortable giving them solos. Do you know your favorite? Take the quiz!
1.) You tend to drink red wine:
a) As your go-to beverage at dinner or a party.
b) More with dinner, or at least some cheese and bread.
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c) Not as much as white.
2.) When you’re eating out, you usually:
a) Zero in on the meat, looking for the best steak or chop on the menu.
b) Keep your eye on the sides and let an entire dish catch your eye.
c) Stay with the seafood, white meat and not so heavy fair, whatever the reason.
3.) Which of the following best describes the red wine you like to drink?
a) It tastes and smells spicy, and I can feel the weight of it on my tongue.
b) It smells like actual fruit, berries and maybe a plant.
c) I can see through it like a pinot noir, and it doesn’t dry out my mouth too much.
4.) What do you dislike the most about red wine?
a) When it’s not rich enough. Then I might as well drink white.
b) When it’s too vanilla or oaky. It can be hard on my sinuses.
c) When it tastes hot or strong, from high alcohol.
5.) The red wine tannin/acid test: Which sensation do you prefer?
a) I like red wine to dry my mouth out a little bit and make me want to grab a forkful of food.
b) I like red wine that delivers plenty of fruit flavor, tongue to cheek.
c) I like red wine that gives a squeeze to the back of my tongue, makes my mouth water.
If you answered mostly A’s:
It’s full-tilt syrah for you. Which is fortuitous; lots of little-known country wines from France and beyond employ this grape. You can be a cheap date. Treat yourself with Charles Smith’s 2011 Boom Boom Syrah ($17), an earthy, spicy, dark-fruited wine that shows Washington can make distinctive and affordable syrah.
If you answered mostly B’s:
Go purple. Wines made with mourvèdre — the inky purple star of France’s Provence and Spain’s Priorat — doubtless suit you best. Berry and plum fruits dominate these red wines, which can be fairly intense but without necessarily drying out your palate. Finding this grape bottled solo from Washington remains difficult and a little pricey, but worth it. Syncline’s 2011 Mourvèdre ($26) smells like everything plum and lasts forever on the tongue.
If you answered mostly C’s:
You probably like raspberries, and grenache. Our state suits pretty-pretty grenache just fine, and the finer, lipsmacking fruit that more often than not keeps the unmistakable aroma of the underbrush of the eastern hills — sage and thyme and dusty flowers. Maryhill’s 2010 Grenache ($22) fits the bill: red berry fruit and a light, peppery finish.
Maggie Savarino is a Seattle-based freelance writer.