Guilt-Free Tobacco

Guilt-Free Tobacco

One of the many beauties of wine is its ability to evoke flavors beyond grape juice. Apple, lemon and vanilla are among the more common. One of my favorites is the aroma—and therefore flavor—of tobacco. It’s quite common in the Sangiovese and Carmenere grapes, but the aroma of tobacco can also be found in aged red wines, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, which often develops an enticing “cigar box” scent. At the table, these are particularly fine with cooked greens, braised meats and root vegetables. Tobacco is a beautiful flavor, after all, and this might be the best way to enjoy it without damaging your health. 

Hiedler Grüner Veltliner “Loess,” Austria
2011, $15
Spicy aromas of brightleaf tobacco, lentils and rhubarb. A dry white, this is one of the best values I’ve tasted all year and one of the most versatile food wines I’ve had.        

Perrin et Fils “Les Christins” Vacqueyras, France
2007, $30
A Grenache-based red, with a lithe texture and autumnal aromas of smoke and dried fruits. Terrific with sausages, it is also lovely with grilled fish.  

San Fabiano Calcinaia “Cellole Riserva,” Chianti, Italy   
2005, $43
Aromas of corojo leaf and licorice scream out of the glass. This is an awesome steak wine and more compelling than most Brunellos at this price.   

Available at Madison’s finer wine stores. If unavailable, most purveyors will special order from their wholesalers if requested.

Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Etoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.

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