All this kerfuffle concerning the wine explosion in Uganda and America goes with our conviction that the revolution has landed with a hard bang. It is high time we blew up the wall of snobbery shutting out the common people haunted by such characters of fact and legend as Dumas Pere who declared that certain wines should only be drunk kneeling with head bared.
The French general who ordered his troops to present arms each time they marched past his favourite vineyards; and the Continental Delicatessen in the New Yorker magazine story who could remark with perfect aplomb to a fellow diner savouring and sharing of a new vintage “Ah an obscene little wine.” True that during the 80s, the only wine that the supposed middle class in Uganda knew and drank was Mateus, a relatively inexpensive and plain Rose that hails from Portugal.
The obvious reason for the explosion is the number of travelling Ugandans and Americans exposed to the boons of the Old World, where wine is a staple such as bread or matooke to the Baganda. How to describe wine has always been a problem.
Dry in wine parlance -not sour- is the opposite of sweet. All table wines, those of lower alcoholic content we take with our meals as distinguished from the fortified types are dry in varying degrees. Naturally, as might be expected all of this has more to do with taste rather than quality.
For body; is substance and please do not make the mistake of thinking that this particular genre of wine would be higher in alcohol. Rather, it gives an impression of weight as opposed to lightness, coupled with an afterglow that we associate with alcoholic drinks.
Rule of thumb
When ordering for wine to pair with a meal, veal, lamb, pork and poultry go with dry white wine. On the other hand, beef and game are paired with red which by tradition should be dry.
Desserts are paired with sweet wine while rose and champagne can go with all kinds of food. These findings are a bare-bones outline of suggestions as to what goes with what. It reflects the experience of generations in combining those traditional good marriages of food and wine. Their principles were sound and may still be followed, though one should leave some leeway for infidelity.
Break a few rules
To wit, the purist dictum that wine served at meal must be preceded by the product of the grape---not the grain--- will no doubt be more honoured in the breach; it limits happy hour intake to dry sherry or Madeira, dry white wine or champagne, or dry vermouth.
A little order
If you are serving more than one wine, white goes better before red. Sweet wines as a cardinal rule should be reserved for desserts. Generally, the heavier the food, the heavier the wine: neither should overpower the other. Oh, some foods fight with wine; a word of caution; beware of any showdowns with vinegary salads, fishy starters, onions, garlic, curries and strongly flavoured sauces.
Last but not least, while the roses do not usually compare with the reds or white as dinner companions, they can be useful in bringing together the various flavours of a barbecue, a brunch, or a picnic or a sandwich at lunch; whatever the menu roses can work for you.
• The whites and roses are served chilled whereas regarding the reds, let the climate, the quality of the wine, and your own preference be your guide. If it bothers you to be told, you can serve red wine only at room temperature. Think of the European peasant and cool it; he drinks his so-called vin ordinarie red or white-cooled in the brook in summer and at the prevailing temperature in the winter.
• Do by all means borrow a leaf from him for an everyday wine. However, for the Sunday red chosen for its special character, chilling could be a dirty trick bound to be looked upon with disdain.
• Bear in mind as well, that the “room temperature” rule came into existence years ago before the advent of central heating, and 22˚C is the top limit.