Sunday, December 12, 2010

Wine of the Week...A New Mexico Story!

New Mexico north of Santa FeImage by Always at Home via Flickr (my flicker account)Near Los Alamos, NM
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Not all wineries are created equal!  We can speak from experience.  My husband and I are the type of people that will become obsessed with a new hobby.  When we started golfing we golfed on every goat track golf course up and down the I-84 corridor in Oregon.  When we discovered wine vinegar we learned to make it and our friends were forced to take it.  The same goes for knives, bread, electric kitchen appliances.  So when we began tasting wine we went a little nuts!

I recall a summer day when the family all formed a convoy and we set out to taste wine in the valley around Banks, Oregon.  Some was good and some was really not fit to be drunk...even by a drunk.  The stop that stands out in my mind is the winery that sold wine out of a farm shed.  The seller had to be beckoned in from his corn field and it turned out he was making Muscat wine...sacramental wine I think.  It was really sweet...and not very good.  In our family we call these kind of experiences "bragging rights"...i.e I've tasted the worst wine in the world! So what have your done?

My Deming, New Mexico experience is more of a "bragging rights" kind of story.  Now, you need to know that Deming is a very nice little has an RV park and enjoys a kind of historic charm.  When we stopped here on our travels we did so because it was too late to go on...but it was too early to go to bed as well.  We began looking for something to do to kill a little time...what better thing than taste wine...right?  After a search of all the flyers in the RV park office we found one tasting room a few miles out of town and, since we were obsessed, we decided to give it a try.

I remember the tasting room also featured a "Cracker Barrel" type gift shop with New Mexico food and vinegar from wine brewed on site.   The tasting bar sat off to the side and when I looked I did not see bottles, I stepped over to see what they were doing.  Instead of bottle,  there were several containers with spigots and each cask was marked "red", "sweet red", "white", "sweet white" etc.  (I may not have that just right but you get the idea.)  As I looked around the room I noticed people with gallon vinegar bottles and liter sized pop bottles in their hands...I was a little puzzled to say the least.

I am more the shop first taste last kind of girl.  Actually I don't want to taste wine unless I am getting the good stuff I cannot afford to buy!  Sorry!  My husband on the other hand has a great sense of adventure and he took at stool at the wine bar so he could sip on their nectar.  What would you like to taste today sir? the man asked.  I guess I will start with a white and work my way down to the dry red! was my husbands answer.  He felt fairly sure that it wouldn't take long because all he could see was the three or four containers with spigots on them...after all I was waiting in the gift shop.   The first taste came out of the "muscat/sweet" jug spigot...the second was one glug of sweet mixed with the second wine containing less sugar.  Then he received a glug white and one glug red.  The two reds where mixed for the next taste and finally the last red was served with no mixing!  I am not kidding you!

The shop was absolutely packed and customers were given a menu of sorts as they turned their vinegar or big pop bottles over to the server.  I'll have #3 today John.  You guessed half white wine and one half red filled the gallon jug.  (My husband said it was very bad.  This could be why they had the vinegar in the shop!)

Needless to say you must realize that Deming and wineries have come into their own since the day we visited that wine bar.  In fact, New Mexico is one of the oldest producers of wine in the United States...thanks to the Catholic Church their need for sacramental wine.  The priests of the early church began producing wine in 1629.  Spain was very, very far away and they were low on wine I think.   In the last 10-12 years we all know how the wine industry has taken off and people in the United State are growing grapes, producing wine and buying wine like we used to buy soda pop! 

I might add that, of all the places we have visited in our travel over the years, New Mexico is the state that holds the most appeal for me.  From Las Cruces to Taos, the state is filled with wonderful food, a charming mix of Mexican and US culture along with a large dose of Native American (Navajo, Apache and several tribes of Puebloan People) influence.  The scenery is second to none.   If you visit you will not be disappointed.

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