WASHINGTON — I recently had the opportunity to sample two wines and a champagne from a California winery that shall remain nameless since I don’t want to hurt the owners’ feelings; I was not impressed. I’ll admit I drank it, but it certainly didn’t hold a candle to some of the wines produced in our Midwest wineries. To my palate, the white wine was “astringent,” a wine term meaning it was rough with a puckery taste sensation. The red wine was more agreeable to my unrefined palate. I would describe it as “big” — full bodied and flavorful with a high degree of alcohol, color and acidity. After tasting the wines, I didn’t even try the champagne by itself; I used it in a holiday punch my daughter aptly named “Kick in the Face Punch.” More and more wineries have popped up in Indiana in recent years, and many have award-winning wines. Windy Knoll Winery, just off U.S. 50 in Knox County, has a silver-medal winner in its Windy Knoll Red, described as a smooth, sweet wine with a rich berry flavor and clean aftertaste. One of my daughter’s favorite wines is their Royal Raspberry. Most Windy Knoll wines fall into the $10-$20 range. Although I’m not really a big wine drinker, one of my favorites is Oliver Winery’s Camelot Mead, a smooth, soft honey wine classified as semi-sweet. My mom likes the Oliver Soft Red, a rich, fruity, semi-sweet wine with a smooth finish. Their Soft Red, Soft White and Soft Rosé are inexpensive and found in many grocery stores. (Their entire semi-sweet list ranges from $7.50 to $14.50!) I tend to like rosés, and Oliver vintners make theirs with a Catawba grape — my favorite, so I really need to try their Soft Rosé sometime. Oliver Winery is on SR 37 just north of Bloomington, so it’s an easy trip. Catawba grapes were among the first to be planted in the Midwest, and at St. James Winery in St. James, Mo., they make a Pink Catawba wine that’s my absolute favorite. They describe it as having a “delightful balance of sweetness and tartness.” It’s great to sip and enjoy with cheeses. Priced well under $10 a bottle, it still won 10 awards in 2011! Closer to home, in the other direction on U.S. 50, Carousel Winery in Bedford boasts 12 gold medals, five double-golds, 20 silver awards, nine bronze medals, one best of class, and one best of show. I can’t say I’ve tried any of their wines, but after noting all the awards on their website, I think I’ll have to make a trip over there — their cherry wine sounds fabulous. Their prices range from $11 to almost $18. French Lick Winery was a quaint little shop when my daughter and I stopped there in 2004, but is now located in the former Kimball Piano Factory in West Baden with a sprawling gift shop and tasting room. According to their website, prices run roughly $10 to $20 a bottle, and they list five gold award winners, six silvers and a bronze. Though they haven’t won awards (yet), I really want to try their Rhubarb and Rhuby Razz wines. French Lick also has a rockin’ Catawba Wine for $9.81 a bottle. I’m not sure “rockin’” is an official wine term, so I’ll share a few official ones from www.indianawines.org! “Smooth” is one I mentioned previously. It means the wine has a silky texture that doesn’t leave a gritty sensation. “Aftertaste,” which I also used, refers to the length of time you can smell and feel the wine in the mouth after it’s swallowed. It’s generally described as short, lingering or long. “Body” describes how wine feels in the mouth. It may be light-bodied, or thin; heavy-bodied, or thick. “Bouquet” encompasses the smells found in a wine. Also referred to as the “nose.” Not to be confused with “aroma,” which is the perfume of fresh fruit that diminishes with fermentation and is replaced by the bouquet as it ages. There’s much more terminology and many more wineries to discuss, which I think I’ll do in future columns. 4In the meantime, feel free to try my newly-named punch recipe at your next special occasion!
Kick In the Face Punch
(1) 32-oz. bottle cranberry juice cocktail
(1) 6-oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 c. water
(2) 3-inch cinnamon sticks
(1) 750-ml. bottle champagne
Combine cranberry juice, water, orange juice concentrate and cinnamon sticks in a large saucepan. Bring to boil, and boil 5 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks. Chill in refrigerator. To serve, pour chilled juice and champagne into punchbowl. Float orange slices studded with cloves on top.
(Makes (16) 1/2-cup servings.)
For those who prefer a wine walk to a pub crawl, Andrea will write more on the wineries of Indiana. She can be reached at amccann@wash timesherald.com.