It’s been years ago but I remember this story well. We always remember the stories that make us feel some kinda way. It was in 2006. I was in Charlotte taking my intro Sommelier course. The four instructors were all Master Sommeliers. During the breaks, they engaged the class and asked the common question, “Where are you from?” My ears perked up when I overheard one of the other students reply that he was from Virginia. The instructor had a slight smile on his face. My thought was that it was a good smile since Virginia was finally on the map as a serious wine making state. So I was waiting for him to say some good things about the wines that were being produced in VA. “Viognier is the only noteworthy wine that comes out of Virginia.” Those words stung. Not that I had enough knowledge to argue what he said with anything other than affinity and loyalty to my home state. Heck, I didn’t even drink a lot of Virginia wine myself. But I wanted to hear that Virginia was making wines that could rank against some of the finest in the world. I never heard those words that day.
So, when I got home, I wanted to pay attention to Viognier. Before I heard the commentary between the instructor and fellow student, I had drank Viognier several times but had never paid any real attention to it. I liked it well enough but I really couldn’t share any distinguishing characteristics if my life depended on it. I had to change that. In Virginia, it was easy to find Viognier. What I like about Viognier is that it reminds me of spring. With hints of honeysuckle, the grape produces a wine that is round, well-balanced, and perfect with a mixed green salad, chicken, fish or simply chilled in a glass. Popular in the Rhone region (France), it is growing in popularity in the United States. The grape benefits from a long, warm growing season and can sustain in drier or drought conditions.
If you haven’t tried Viognier, don’t let the season so by without doing so. If you are fortunate enough to be in Virginia, get a bottle of something local. It is delicious with fruit, light cheese, and white fish dishes. A great beverage to beat the summer heat, try Viognier today.
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