Twenty-Wine Days of February: Day 27, Corn Dogs, NASCAR, And North Carolina Wine

The Oscars are done (for the record, I picked 10 of 24 Oscar categories without having seen any of the films. Read that here).  Bring on the Daytona 500…  Again… Again?  Hopefully the Great American Race will actually get the green flag tonight at 7:00 P.M. eastern.

I won’t claim to be the biggest NASCAR fan ever (heck, I don’t even have a driver, really), but I do tune in to the big race at Daytona every February and watch as many races as I can on Sunday afternoons (at least until football season starts).  These guys (and gals) get to drive over-horse powered, over-tuned, over the top vehicles really fast.  And they mostly don’t crash.  That’s fairly impressive.

In consideration of Daytona running tonight, I thought I’d pop the cork in honor of NASCAR by opening a wine from North Carolina (and yes, wine is produced in North Carolina and NASCAR is headquartered in Charlotte).  I just happened to have a bottle in my cellar and decided to pair it with concession stand food for some giggles (and for a late lunch).

Am I pandering a bit to a group that is very loyal to something they like?  Maybe, but at least I didn’t pick something that I could describe as having “petrol-y” or “burnt rubber” notes.  Give me a little credit.

Lake James Cellars Chambourcin, North Carolina

Lake James Cellars Chambourcin

Never heard of this wine variety?  Probably not.  Chambourcin is a hearty, hybrid grape variety with thick skins, allowing it to thrive in colder climates.  In the U.S., it is mostly cultivated on the East Coast and Midwest.

I popped and poured this deep red wine.

On the nose, I got a strong aroma of cough syrup and cinnamon.  Yeah, you read that one right.

The palate delivered the promise of the nose—a medicine-y black cherry that put me in mind of a sugar-free candy.  The cinnamon notes came though, although I’m not sure how.  There were some moderate to heavy tannins and a fairly firm acid on this wine.

It probably could go without saying, but I was not a huge fan of this wine.  As a matter of fact, I have not been a fan of any Chambourcin I have ever tasted.  At the risk of upsetting the “Chambourcin Lobby,” I’m not 100% convinced that this grape shouldn’t go the way of the Dodo; or, at the very least, not be made into a single-varietal wines.  A point of emphasis here:  I will not not try another Chambourcin ever, ‘because I will; but I won’t be seeking one out.

Is it State Fair time?

So did the Lake James Cellars Chambourcin pair well with corn dogs and crinkle cut fries?  Actually, yes.  The sweetness of the breading on the corn dog and the savory of the condiments (mustard and ketchup) actually balanced well with the tartness of the wine.  That said, I won’t be trying that pairing again (nor the wine—corn dogs, yes).

Let me add that this wine did smooth out a bit over a couple hours after being opened.  The spiciness emerged a bit more and the cherry notes were a bit less medicine-y.  I also want to point out that I am not finding fault with the winemaking (other than the decision to make a Chambourcin) or Lake James Cellars here; Chambourcin just doesn’t get my engine revved.

The Lake James Cellars Chambourcin is available from the winery for $16.  Personally, I would much rather have [almost] any other red varietal of wine at that price point than any Chambourcin.  Tonight though, I’ll be popping the top on a beer while watching the race.  As a certain driver turned commentator says at the beginning of every race he calls (and I’m paraphrasing here, I think), “Go, Go, Go! Let’s commence the fast driving competition, fellas!”

Cheers from the Corkpit,


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