Matt Kramer's 'wine viagra'

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In the book 'Matt Kramer on wine' (published by Sterling publishing) Matt covers topics from terroir to glassware to various grapes, regions and personalities.

In the second in an exclusive online series, here is an extract titled 'Wine Viagra'

”So you see doc, I've got this problem,” I confessed. “I’m a wine writer. A pro, you understand. I’m supposed to be able to get, er, excited, every time I meet a nice wine. But lately I just don’t seem to respond. I can’t be the only one who’s had this problem. Surely there are others, right?”

"Of course there are,” he said soothingly. “Why, I myself have had the same problem from time to time. It happens to everybody.”

“Yeah, that’s what my wife says,” I said bitterly. “She suggested that I buy some new Riedel glasses. ‘That always gets you going,’ she said. But it didn’t work. And I bought those big ones, too. I’m really running out of options here, Doc.”
“Well,” he said brightly, “what you need is wine Viagra.”image from intowine.co.uk
This was news to me. “Does such a thing exist?” I asked, excited (at last!) at the prospect.

“Not in the way you think. Don’t look so downcast,” he added. “A pill is just a pill, after all. Wine is what pills would like to be. What was it that Brillat-Savarin said when somebody offered him grapes for dessert? ‘I am not in the habit of taking my wine in pills.’”
Great, I thought to myself, of all the doctors in the world, I get one who was a French major.

“Really, what you need is a change of wine scenery,” he continued. “In my experience this is usually the cause of the—what shall we call it?—ennui. You’re a Burgundy sort, if I remember correctly.”
I told him that was so. Burgundy always worked for me. Grands crus, premiers crus, even shy little village wines would always do the trick. But not anymore.

“I dunno, Doc. I tried with Burgundy, believe me. Why, just the other night I opened a Chambolle-Musigny that used to make me weak in the knees. Now, nothing.”
“Yes, yes, terroir and all that,” he sighed. “But this terroir obsession can get a little hothouse, you know. What was it that Proust said? ‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’”
“Enough with French literature,” I cried. “What about my problem? Believe me, Proust ain’t gonna help.”

“Quite so,” he said contritely. “All right, first, you start with white wines. But no white Burgundies,” he said sternly. “Didn’t you once say that you loved Muscadet? Start there. The 2003s are now available. It was an exceptional vintage: very warm, creating unusually rich, full, intense Muscadets. Granted, Muscadet may not be the wine Viagra you’re imagining, but as my Chinese acupuncturist colleagues like to say, one must first cool the hot wind.

image from turangacreek.co.nz“Then after you’ve had a few 2003 Muscadets—try Domaine de la Pepiere, Domaine de l’Ecu, Chateau de Chasseloir, Domaine les Hautes Noelles—you should move on to a slightly more substantial white wine, say, Sauvignon Blanc. Really, it will be good for you to savor all those lovely Sauvignon Blancs the world has to offer today: Loire, Bordeaux, South Africa, California, northern Italy, Washington, New Zealand. That’s the kind of stimulation you need.”
”But when do I return to red wines?” I pleaded. “Real men drink red wine.”

”Phish,” he said dismissively. “It was red wine that got you into this problem. Get some flexibility. Tune yourself. Too many men think red wine is the answer. Women know better. Ask your wife, she’ll tell you.
” Yeh, well, my wife likes roses.”
”Excellent!” he exclaimed. “I should have thought of that myself. Anything made from Grenache is always a good choice. It’s really the best grape for rose because it’s so fruity. I had a wonderful rose just the other night from the Lake Garda area in Northern Italy called Chiaretto from a producer called Provenza. Oh, it was lovely, with a whiff of strawberries. And the grapes are Groppello, Marzemino, Sangiovese, and Barbera. How’s that for distinction, eh?”

"Sounds wonderful, Doc. But will this get me excited about wine again?” 
”Guaranteed,” he replied confidently. “You see, the problem is all mental. Put out of your mind those big buck, I’m-saving-this-for-a-special-occasion wines—for a while, anyway. They’re not the real wine Viagra. Rather, it’s the small beauties, the daily delights.
”Iris Murdoch put it best: ‘One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.' And she wasn’t even French, you know.” (2004) 

Matt Kramer on wine is available to buy from amazon.co.uk