Wine and camping go together like margaritas and your grandma’s beach house.
This is something I didn't start practicing until I was 20 and trekked out to Appalachia with my Von Trapp family-sized gaggle of roommates. Of course, then it was illegal, and we had to quite literally wash our mouths out with soap in fear that the park ranger would smell the fermented grapes on our breath. In days even earlier in that, camping cuisine was just as delightful; For breakfast my mother would make biscuits and gravy in a cast iron skillet over the fire, while our family friends scrambled up cheesy eggs on the propane stove. Our snacks consisted of homemade brownies, Trolli Apple Rings, and Kool Aid Jammers.
But now I’m older and **MATURE** and look for sustenance with A) protein B) No fake colors and C) an alcohol content. And I like to make things special. Which is why I stopped at a joint called Smokey Davis on my way out to Wallowa Lake, where I found cases of beef jerky, Idaho mustard, gem-colored jams and the Cinder Dry Viognier.
Viogniers (pronounced “Vee-own-yay”) are full-bodies whites that originated in the south of France. They’re often fruit forward, with creamy notes of vanilla honeysuckle and mango. I think they taste like tie-dye fruit rollups.
You know those small town/organic diners? The kinds that sell local honey, serve face-sized pancakes, and operate under a co-op of older women with names like Butterfly? Yup, this is this wine. Drinking the Cinder is like having breakfast at 7am alongside an elderly man who drinks his coffee black and a hippie family with a mom who stops to breastfeed her child. It’s orange jelly on white toast with a juiciness akin to chewing a yellow starburst. The minerality is so moist it could win a wet t-shirt contest.
I am Paddington Bear and this wine is my marmalade. And just like little Paddy, I want to dip my hands so far into the glass that I’m practically bathing. It’s outdoorsy yet cozy, like when you finish a hike and cuddle up in your camping chair with a solid four more hours of sunshine.
You could drink this wine alone, but I enjoyed with a plate of poor woman’s hors d'oeuvres consisting of Chex Mix, Idaho mustard, and beef jerky from a nearby general store. The sweet and mellow flavor of the Cinder stood up nicely to the salt and spice of my accoutrements, and I would have been pleased to snack solely on this and only this until that cracked-out Oregon took its demise.
What I drank: The 2015 Cinder Dry Viognier
Where it’s from: 40% of the grapes are from Washington vineyards and the other 60% are from the Snake River Valley in Idaho.
Where I drank it: Wallowa Lake in Eastern Oregon, alongside my tent, a fire, and a neighboring group of History Bee-winning high schoolers.
What it tasted like: Grapefruit and orange blossom on the nose, followed by the taste explosion of sweet, chewy candy. The mouthfeel is like you’ve just eaten a handfulof warm-colored Gushers all at once, and the whole thing is polished off by a babbling brook of minerality.
When/where to drink it: Everyday activities for when you want to add some flavor. Doing laundry, cleaning the apartment, or playing board games on the back porch with your sweetie-pie. It would also make for a great “5pm on the beach” wine.The lively aromas and acidity make it good for salty things, or briney seafoods. (Any excuse to eat oysters, am I right?)