Here's what happens when you try to force the issue.
If we were iced in and couldn't see family for Christmas Day, Mrs. Ney had ropa vieja planned as a back-up meal (a slowly-stewed short rib concoction consisting of tomatoes, capers and various spices).
Stupid roads weren't icey enough. So, three days later, it became a Monday night meal.
Instead of leaving the sauce/chutney/stew-like mixture that makes ropa vieja chunky, she puréed it, imparting a certain silky depth that came off magically delicious, a flavor that stuck in your cheek and never left. Not sticky, just gloriously subtle and deep.
Both of us were sick, or on the brighter side of sick - me more than Mrs. Ney as per usual. Both of our palates were...not good. Believing things were getting better and wine could be brought back into play, we opened a recommended zinfandel, rather happy that we could get back on the wine horse.
Nope. Not even close. In fact, it became an increasingly hilarious waste of time.
2006 Za Zin Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi - $20 WDC
A lighter Zinfandel without the pronounced jamminess that usually comes with zinfandel. More red fruit and a little less spice. Probably a nice change of pace but the ropa vieja and our colds killed it.
So...we cracked something else, taking our colds into account and tried to go bigger and cheaper, thinking this whole wine-food thing was doomed from the start. Just crack something cheap.
2006 Archeo Ruggero di Tasso Nero d'Avola - $5 Trader Joe's
Bleech! Too acidic with the food and our increasingly-cursed colds. Not at all what this bargain-basement and decent little wine typically is.
At this point, sane people would stop and just give up. Not us.
So...we went bigger and darker because the ropa vieja deserved the effort.
2006 Nashwauk Tempranillo McLaren Vale - $15 Binny's
Not a Spanish tempranillo at all. Less cherry and more earth and leather. We've loved this one in the past, knew it well and had high hopes.
Nothing but tannins.
Strike three, right? Nope.
2007 Antonio Caggiano Tarì Aglianico - $15 WDC
Aglianico had to work. It just had to. I knew Caggiano wines through my restaurant. He's one of the most respected names in southern Italy, always making wines of high quality at the price point.
Mostly though, as the process became funnier by the bottle, I figured let's go whole hog and ruin another bottle.
I'll revisit this one someday as I could actually taste something. Pretty floral background with bright dark fruit and almost a sparkling tinge to it.
Still didn't work with the ropa vieja.
Strike freakin' four!
Four bottles of wine worth $55, one good ropa vieja and it was a colossal wine-with-food failure.
A week earlier, after the effects of the first day of my cold seemed to subside and I felt like it could have been a 24-hour thing, we may have committed an even bigger error in our wine world.
Wine can chicken with a hoisin/orange glaze, baguette, butter and arugula was paired with one of our favorite winery's bottles:
2000 López de Heredia Bosconia Rioja - $30 Sam's (?)
Nothing! Nothing! We tasted nothing!
A great, lighter-bodied wine from a rainy year that has wonderful leafy, berry notes and a hint of orange peel. Should have paired beautifully.
Lesson: Don't! Drink! Wine! When you're sick!