Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment or drop me a line. Cheers! - Bethany

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Wine Blogging Wednesday 72: Helping Japan

It's been almost a month. A month since the earth shifted and a wall of water all but consumed a country and its people, far away on the other side of the earth.

"One of her babies is rotting in the sun
While the other one was found drowned in the ocean
Her mom and dad are in their van, crushed and bloated
And her husband was thrown from his fishing boat."


Helping Japan. That is the theme chosen by the Passionate Foodie, this month's host of Wine Blogging Wednesday. The premise is simple: review a sake, or at least a wine that goes with Japanese food. Most importantly, link to the Red Cross so that people can donate. If you haven't done so already, please do.

I decided to go with an unconventional choice: Oroya, a white blend from Spain (Tierra De Castilla), crafted by Japanese-born winemaker Yoko Sato. This sushi wine from bubbly-makers Freixenet is made from airén (60%), macabeo (30%) and moscatel (10%). Airén is the most-grown grape varietal in the world, in terms of surface area of vines planted, coming in at a whopping 306,000 hectares. In Japanese, the word airén means "perfect love", while "oroya" is a type of basket used to carry goods across a river.

I first tried Oroya at Wasabi, down in the Byward Market. It was crisp and light, with subtle lemony flavours and a touch of saltiness. I was bowled over by its quality and its chameleon ability to blend in with anything on the plate: tempura, nigiri, sticky rice, cucumber, avocado, you name it. If the term "umami" still escapes you, this wine will provide the 'a-ha' moment you need to figure it out, as Oroya enhances the salty, savoury, creamy texture of the seafood. The finish was clean and refreshing.

It seems unfair to sit comfortably and sip on wine in the face of such devastation. A sombre toast to you, Japan, to those lost, those who survived and those who carry on.

Everything she's ever known is gone, gone, gone
Everyone she's ever loved is gone, gone, gone
The only reason she's alive
She grabbed a palm frond and held on.

(from "12/26" by Kimya Dawson)

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