Okay, so maybe it IS a little unusual to mix NFL football with well-aged Bordeaux. But that sure don’t make it wrong.
I had just returned from a friend’s “Old Bordeaux and Browns” party when I linked to my blogging colleague Tom Wark’s Fermentation site and read the following excerpt:
I can say with a certain amount of confidence that among many men, wine is viewed as a “girls drink”; a drink that makes a man seem either weaker of more feminine. … I still know people who, when in a group of other like-minded “guys” watching football or barbecuing would never pick up a glass of wine..
Well, I can testify there were NO such misgivings at THIS particular gathering of rabid Browns fans (I was — ahem — rooting for the Bengals.) In fact, the host shared a great story of attending the previous week’s game in Cleveland and about how, in a vast ocean of beer-swilling Browns fans tailgating outside the stadium, a lone wine enthusiast discovered their wine-themed tailgate and nearly wept with joy. He was so excited he …
… ran back to his car to grab some decent stemware and abandoned his buddies to join his fellow wine aficionados.
But I digress.
Here are some tasting notes on the wines that we manly men (and a couple of womanly women) swirled, sniffed and slurped as we watched the division-leading Bengals eke out a last-second victory over the Browns:
1966 Ch. Mouton-Rothschild: Still very much alive and kicking, with a graphite-and-mineral-laden nose accented with cassis. Fruit carries over into the flavors, and the wine is smooth and well-balanced. Medium-length finish. Thoroughly enjoyable.
1966 Ch. Latour: Nose is muted, featuring iodine with a faint hint of fruit. This wine tasted better than the nose would suggest. Broad, fruity flavors that are smooth and velvety in the mouth. Finishes a bit thin.
1966 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild: Nose was musty, with dried leaves and mushrooms and a hint of cigar box. Flavors were thin and washed out, with a short finish.
1975 Lafite-Rothschild: Toasty, cassis-laden nose. Broad, deep, complex flavors of fruit, cedar and spice. Still plenty of fruit in this 30-year-old wine, and it’s likely at or approaching its peak.
1967 Ch. Calon-Segur: Aromas of mushrooms and forest floor, with fruit and a hint of oxidation. The palate boasts a core of fruit mingling with earthy flavors. Solid, pleasant finish.
1966 Ch. Fourcas Hosten: Nose is muted, with some iodine and toasty aromas. Fruit is fading but not gone.
1971 Ch. Figeac (St. Emilion): The most perplexing wine of the day. Quite tasty but very un-Bordeaux-like. Raisiny aromas dominate the nose; flavors are sweet, very ripe and harmonius, though bordering on raisiny. One taster summed it up as, “If red wine could be a Sauternes, this would be it.”
The wine enthusiast who contributed the ‘66 first growths said these were the last of their kind in his cellar. “I don’t think they’re at their peak,” he said.
Still, a fascinating experience, unlike any I’d had before. No one was complaining — at least, not until Shayne Graham hit the winning field goal for the Bengals. At that point, I poured Champagne.
And THAT’S how real men watch a Browns game.