The Pot Thief drinks Gruet

The Grapevine

July 21, 2011|By Lisa Airy, thewinekey@aol.com

Lizards and rattlers and bears … oh, my! My wine colleagues told me New Mexico is another country even though it is a part of our own. The cuisine is a unique as that of New Orleans, albeit with only 10 principal ingredients, and there is a burgeoning wine culture despite its cactus clime.

Bubbles are not usually top of mind when one thinks of a high desert. But my daughter and I had purchased an extraordinarily funny murder-mystery at Treasure House Books and Gifts on the plaza of Albuquerque, "The Pot Thief Who Studied Escoffier," while en route to Gruet's tasting room.

Who'd have thunk it?

The protagonist was, yes, literally a pot thief who ransacked Native American ruins to find ancient pots to sell at profit. He also happens to be a genuine guy with a love of margaritas and lively conversation at 5 p.m., a penchant for Gruet (a New Mexican sparkling wine) at breakfast and a beer come mid-afternoon.

Mind, all the while the main character is pairing his liquid libations with fabulous New Mexican dishes (with as much soul as the ever-expanding universe) he finds himself embroiled (excuse the pun) in an Austrian/New Mexican fusion restaurant and a side order of sudden death.

The book is funny at a very high intellectual level and deliciously delightful. And the wine that the protagonist drinks to profusion is also good.

Granted, I knew about Gruet long before I had heard about the 'Pot Thief' novels, but there is nothing better than to sit down with a book that is all New Mexican food culture and New Mexican sparkling wine and have a bit of that bubbly at the elbow while a pot of chili is simmering on the stove. It is the true wine-and-dine experience on a quiet weekend and it's armchair travel at its very best. I highly recommend the combination.

But don't go to Amazon to order this book. Special order it from a local bookstore if they don't carry it. This helps the author gain distribution. Won't cost you extra and will do the author a world of good.

And buy a bottle of Gruet. Trust me. You'll want it chilled and at the ready by page 15. Most bottlings run $13.

Now, Pot Thief loves Gruet Blanc de Noir. It's good. Yes it is. It is fat and round with plenty of fruit and perfume.

But I'm a rose girl myself. Holy "mole" (all puns intended). it handles spicy food, especially New Mexican chiles, with an alchemist's hand.

Every bottle of rose I've drunk tastes different. Sometimes its strawberry fruit, sometimes sour cherry, sometimes sweet cherry, sometimes pomegranate, sometimes red raspberry. But in true Pot Thief fashion, who cares what you dig up? It's always a pretty darn good find.

And then there's the Gruet Extra Dry. It's a new line extension and hints of sweetness, like Susannah, Pot Thief's best friend. But, it's got backbone and lots of guts and stuffing, all hidden within a chiseled, mineral core. Like Susannah.

Drink and read. It's a marriage made in heaven. Er, make that New Mexico.

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