22 December 2010

A Whiter Shade of Vinho Verde

I love the classic early 90s Irish film The Commitments, and I've even seen the related quasi-sequels The Snapper and The Van, back when you had to drive out to a dark, grimy theater in the weird part of town to watch foreign movies. You kids with your Netflix and iTunes don't know how easy you have it. I watched Chasing Amy surrounded by senior citizens, but I'm not going to explain here why that particular experience was so odd and uncomfortable.

The reason why I bring up The Commitments is that there's a scene where the keyboardist is practicing on the church pipe organ*, and he's playing "A Whiter Shade of Pale". He and the band manager are discussing the line about the Vestal Virgins, stating that they don't understand it, and the priest surprises them, saying, "I never understood that either. It's a very peculiar lyric."

In my usual roundabout way, the title of that song popped into my head when I unboxed a sample of white Vinho Verde (paradoxically darker than the green variety). I know that the Portuguese region also makes a red wine in addition to the popular light fizzy wine, but I still wasn't expecting it. Even after tasting thousands of wines in my lifetime, I'm still surprised occasionally.

2009 Casa de Vila Verde
$10, 11.5% abv.
Proprietary blend of Arinto, Loureiro, and Trajadura.

Lots of lime and orange pith and peel, with a slightly bitter edge. Crisp and fruity, tart acidity, and a short finish. There's a mineral edge on the aftertaste that I like, though with every sip I find myself craving salt and cured meats. You don't always have to match a wine to a food of its country of origin, but this would be incredible with a big pot of mussels and chorizo with a few loaves of crusty bread.

*My childhood church, being of the ancient Scottish Presbyterian variety, had a massive pipe organ that required a lot of 18th century maintenance. The one and only time I was given access to it (not during a service--the sanctuary was empty) I started playing my favorite song that I knew from piano lessons: Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer", thanks to my great-grandfather's love of ragtime. (Of course, he was a kid when that was new and popular.) The woman who was in charge of our little group of choir singers was not a fan, and as I was forcibly removed from the bench, I heard the words that I will never forget to my dying day: "YOU DO NOT PLAY JAZZ IN A PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH!"

Note: This wine was received as a sample.

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