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Wine of the month

Frogtown Cellars Sangiovese 2006

The wine: Medium-bodied, dry red table wine
The grapes: 100 percent sangiovese
The source: Lumpkin County
The verdict: Here's a local wine that tells the story about the quality of wines being cranked out of the hills of Northeast Georgia. I tasted this rich, berry-like red with Frogtown owners Craig and Cydney Kritzer during the summer. Sangiovese is the primary red wine grape of Tuscany, but this one has a slightly different personality. It's lighter than a Chianti and not quite so acidic. But it is a joy to drink and a fine red table wine. Chill it slightly before serving. It's available at limited retail sources or at the winery.
The price: About $19

It is getting cool in Northeast Georgia. Fall is creeping in. And it is getting to be time for cool-weather wines.

I've had a few questions about autumn wines in my e-mail inbox. How about if I deal with them ... for everybody.

Question: You've talked about summer wines in recent columns, and I agree with some of them ... although I still don't like riesling the way you do. What about wines for cooler weather? Any recommendations?

Answer: Yes — put your riesling in the microwave for 20 seconds. NO! Just kidding!

As with any season of the year, select your wines according to what you are eating. As the weather gets colder, we tend to eat heavier dishes; in many cases dishes that are accompanied best by red wines. I'm talking about stews, chili, lasagna, possum puffs, etc.

My first choice for such foods is a zinfandel from California. Those who read this column regularly know I'm talking about red zinfandel, not the pink stuff. Red zin is wonderful wine and dresses up stews, burgers, chili, pizza like few other wines.

Malbecs from Argentina also make a good cool-weather selection, as do reds from the Cotes du Rhone of France and shiraz from California or Australia.

For after dinner, however, to keep the chill out, I recommend a tot of sherry or port: Oloroso for the former; ruby, late bottled vintage or tawny for the latter. These are sweet, high-alcohol wines that help a big dinner digest. And make you toasty warm.

Q: I recently spent an evening with friends of a friend at their home near Nashville, Tenn. It was a lovely evening. They grilled steaks and complemented the meal with a terrific pinot noir from Oregon.

It came as quite a surprise when they poured the wine from the bottle into my glass through an aerator. This was my first encounter with such a device. Suffice it to say I was shocked. Did I ruin every bottle of red wine ever served by simply "letting it breathe?"

I visited a local wine shop and he had aerators for sale. I intended to buy some for gifts for friends and relatives until I discovered they cost $40 apiece - for a molded piece of plastic not unlike a small funnel. I think it's the most absurd wine gizmo ever. I would love it if you would address the subject in a future column. I'm prepared to be wrong about this. I'm also prepared to spend $40 if so.

A: As for aerators, I'm not sold on them. I have read of some controlled experiments involving knowledgeable winos where results from using these things were positive. But I'm a simple guy ... and cheap, too.

Aeration benefits only older red wines. And if you're serving a 20-year-old Bordeaux, either pour the wine into the appropriate glasses 20 to 30 minutes before sitting down to enjoy it, or decant it. Aeration will occur naturally, if needed at all, and you've saved 40 bucks, which is, I agree, a ridiculous price for something that probably costs 50 cents to make.

As for "letting it breathe," let me address another wine myth. Letting wine breathe, or allowing an opened bottle to sit and theoretically huff and puff for half an hour or so, just wastes time. Again, don't worry about this with your pinot grigio; just older red wines.

Just pour the wine into the glasses, which exposes far more wine to the air, or decant it, being careful not to drain the expected sediment into either the decanter or glasses.

Q: We recently had visitors from the Alsace region of France. As a gift I was given a wine I know nothing about, and I hope you can help me. It's a tall, long-necked bottle and the label says Domaines Schlumberger Grand Cru Kessler Gewurztraminer 2004. What is this?

A: My first suggestion is that this is my Christmas present. However, that might just present a wee conflict of interest on my part.

What you have is one of the finest white wines produced in the Alsace, the small region on the border with France and Germany.

The wines there are made in the German style, but they are French. Schlumberger (pronounced shlum-ber-ZHAY) is a well-respected winery, which produces more Grand Crus than another other Alsatian.

This wine, made from the gewurztraminer grape, is crisp and dry, spicy with lots of aromas and flavors. It will be lovely to sip all by its lonesome, if you like to do that. For a food match, think Asian foods - Thai or Indian come to mind. It is ready to drink now but, if stored properly, will be fine for another three to five years. It's a gem!

Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. Have a question about wine? He can be contacted at His column runs on the first Wednesday of the month.