Where will it take you?

It's getting hot in here!Pedaling along a stretch of country road in the south of France is a glorious way to spend a summer’s eve. The gentle breeze flowed though my hair and the warmth of the setting sun was at my back. I could ride for hours on my red bicycle gazing at the stone cottages and the lush landscape speckled with lavender. Perhaps I shall stop off and pick up a few bars of French milled Lavender soap before heading back to the bed and breakfast. They would make lovely stocking stuffers for my family back home…

“Earth to Debbie, come in Debbie,” I heard myself say. I stood in my mother’s kitchen as my brother opened his latest wine find on a visit back home. We children and our brood had flocked to our birthplace for the long holiday weekend. My parents love having us all in one place, though we were minus one. Nonetheless, it was an occasion to BBQ costly cuts of meat and feast on fresh vegetables from the garden. There isn’t a finer restaurant where I would rather be. My dad had opened the “Bloody Mary bar” a couple of hours prior, but that didn’t stop us from opening the lone bottle of Red Bicyclette Merlot sitting on the counter.

I found a small crystal goblet in my mother’s cabinet and poured a glass. I passed it to my brother and asked him to tell me what it smelled like. He tasted it. I said, “Nooooo. What does it SMELL like? Do you smell berries or pepper?” My pseudo sister-in-law, piped up. “Leading the sniffer!” … or something like that. He took a good whiff and said, “It smells like rotten grapes!” I laughed. He tried again. “It smells like pine and kinda peppery.” I laughed again. “Okay, so pine needles? Well, we all smell things differently!” I replied. I passed it to the sis-in-law. She changed her voice to that of a very stuffy wine snob and said, “This wine has been aged in 100-year-old oak barrels and has well balanced tannins.” … or something like that. My mother came in, so naturally I made her smell it too. “I can’t smell a thing … allergies.”

At last it was my turn to take it for a swirl. “I smell cherries and maybe blackberries?” I said. I took a sip and WOW! It was quite tart and didn’t finish well. This wine needed to breathe! We talked about how long you should allow wine to breathe. Depending on the age and type of wine, you should let it “hang out” for about twenty to thirty minutes. This is fairly typical of most reds. A young wine could take up to an hour. This doesn’t mean in the bottle, according to various wine experts. One should either pour it into a glass or a decanter in order to let the air get to it. For a more immediate solution, a wine aerator is your best bet. Unfortunately, mine was at home. So, I allowed my little glass some space while we had dinner. Eventually, we reunited and the difference was quite noticeable. It had the familiar spicy warmth and I could easily discern the berry flavor. The strong finish was more pleasant than my earlier sip. My brother thought it was pretty good, although that could have been the Bloody Marys talking. My sis-in-law was not a fan, but she isn’t too fond of Merlot in general.

I filled my miniature goblet several times. This wine was growing on me. I know what you’re thinking. If you can handle a few glasses of any wine, they all start to grow on you! As it turns out, the vintner describes this wine has having a red berry jam flavor with blackberry and cherry. I guess my first sniff wasn’t too far off. I might actually have a knack for this wine thing! At a mere $6.99 on sale at Smith’s Food and Drug, I recommend any fan of Merlot take this little gem out for a spin. Just remember, if you happen to ride solo and finish the bottle, cycle safe and wear a helmet!

Here’s a little something from the vintner, “From vine to wine, Red Bicyclette starts with special fruit.

Since 2003, Red Bicyclette wines have captured the spirit and flavor of the Southern French countryside. Every bottle comes from Languedoc-Roussillon, a beautiful region on France’s Western Mediterranean coast. With a legacy of winemaking that dates back more than 2,000 years to the Romans, the 700,000 acres of Languedoc produce more vin than any other region in France.

The Languedoc’s ideal grape growing conditions – warm, sunshiny days and cool nights – mingle with mountains and valley, rivers, plateaus and coastline. No other wine is quite like the wines made from the grapes of Southern France… and no wine embodies the French Countryside quite like Red Bicyclette. Try it and see where it takes you!”

Aromatique: Peppery, with hints of blackberry and vanilla

SipQuips: Warm on the tongue, full dark berry flavor, strong finish

Kitchen Couplings: BBQ beef or pork, hearty stews, dark chocolate.

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