Every bottle has a story

I am not a wine expert, but with each bottle I try and share with friends, I learn more. Wine is an exceptional social drink; it is the marijuana of alcoholic beverages because it must be shared. I seek to share with you my thoughts and experiences as I drink the wine in my closet, as well as my enthusiasm for the finds that come my way and the excellent values that I find. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences too, so please share!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A delightful Riesling style wine from West Virginia

On my birthday this past July, my sister Pat and her husband Chip gave me some wine, which included this interesting item from the Forks of Cheat Winery in West Virginia. The label only indicates that the Schwarzer Bär – or black bear – is a semi-dry white table wine. Nothing on the label hints at what grape varietals are used for this. The winery’s website doesn’t offer much more, other than to say that the wine is “finished in a German style.”

Judging by the bottle’s shape, I guessed this wine would drink like a Riesling, but despite the label identifying it as “semi-dry,” I couldn’t be sure of its sweetness. So my plan was to serve it with some spicy food in the event that it was sweeter than the label indicated.

That day for drinking was this past Saturday. My friend Curt came over and I prepared a Balinese pork stir fry served over steamed rice with a Caesar salad and some cold beets. The recipe for the pork is provided below. The dish is rather spicy, but has a sweet core as well from the Indonesian-style sweet soy sauce used in its preparation.

When I uncorked the bottle, I half expected a very pungent, sweet nose wafting out of the bottle but instead, I was delighted by its delicate and fruity nose. When poured, the wine was extraordinarily pale, just the barest hint of straw. The taste was slightly sweet, but fresh with a smooth, even mineral finish. It was all peaches and pear, even some lychee, but as I said, the finish lacked that cloying sweetness some American “German style” wines possess. This was really quite good and an excellent match with the spicy Balinese pork.

This is a very inexpensive wine as well, retailing for just $10.50 on the website. I rate this with an 8.5 on my scale, which can be found to the left. I would certainly buy this again on my own. Below is the recipe for my Balinese pork stir fry.

1 pound of pork stew meat or boneless pork rib meat, thinly sliced.
1 medium to large white onion
2 teaspoons of ginger powder
½ teaspoon of sambal olek (spicy chili sauce); use just ¼ teaspoon if you can’t handle really hot food, more if you can
150 ml of warm water
5 tablespoons of sweet soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic
Salt and pepper

Partially freeze the meat so it is easy to slice to the thickness of a dime. On a plate, sprinkle salt. Place a layer of the sliced meat on the plate, then sprinkle with salt and cover liberally with ground black pepper. Add another layer of meat and repeat the seasoning until you have prepared all the meat. Let it sit.

Cut the onion in half and remove the outer layer and the ends. Cut in half again across the rings, then slice about ¼ inch thick so you have half-rings. Heat a wok with high flame, add a dollop of bacon grease (olive oil if you feel like being healthy). Peel the garlic cloves and smash them with the flat side of a large knife, then chop. Just as the bacon fat starts to smoke, add the garlic, stir quickly. Add all of the meat at once. Stir, cooking until meat is just about cooked all the way.

Add the onion, stir into the meat until the onion just starts getting soft. Add the ginger powder, stirring to coat everything evenly. Add the sambal olek and stir again. Mix the sweet soy sauce into the water, then pour all at once into the wok. Stir until everything is evenly spread, then cover. Turn the heat down and let it simmer covered for about 20 minutes. Uncover for another 5 to 10 minutes so some of the liquid evaporates.

Serve with steamed rice and whatever side dishes you like.

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