Writing was on hiatus. Wine never was

This blog has been on hiatus since mid-March. Writing about wine just seemed trivial and self-indulgent while so many people were sick or dying or losing their jobs. But as things start opening up – more so in some places than others – it’s time for me to get back to work, too.

We’ve been hunkered down here in the Santa Cruz Mountains since March 16, when Santa Cruz County issued its stay-at-home order. That order is still mostly in place. All things considered, it’s not a bad place to be stuck at home. We can go out for walks without worrying about being in contact with too many people. We’ve stocked the pantry and fridge to the point where we can limit our shopping trips. And wine can be delivered right to the door, even in my relatively remote location.

Wine is a pleasure that is more important now than ever. It’s enjoyable in any circumstance, but a big factor in its appeal is its role in socializing. The Wine Spectator recently reported on a study by researchers at the University of Central Florida that linked at least some of wine’s purported health benefits to its role in positive social interactions.

Those social interactions are, of course, harder to come by these days. You can connect online with friends for a virtual happy hour. My husband and I have adopted something my cousin in a suburb of Kanas City has been doing with friends, which they call “drinks in the driveway.” In our case, that has meant gathering with a neighbor couple once a week or so on the paved area behind their house. We bring our own bottle of wine and glassware, and there’s plenty of room to spread out.

If you live alone, you may be wondering about drinking alone. Only you can judge whether you have a healthy relationship with alcohol, but if you do, I say go for it. In normal times, when my husband is traveling or away for the evening, I don’t deprive myself.

I generally try to recommend wines that aren’t too hard to find and avoid wines that have to be shipped. But given that many of us are now buying wine online, this is a good time for me to recommend one of my favorite wineries, which sells nearly everything direct to consumer: Navarro Vineyards in Mendocino County. The winery has a number of new releases that are worth your attention; here are three.

The 2019 “Cuvée 128” Sauvignon Blanc ($22) has the usual citrusy profile you find in most sauvignon blancs, but that’s accented by a green fig note and some nice weight and richness. The 2019 Rosé of Pinot Noir ($22) is fresh, exuberant and summery, while the 2018 Muscat Blanc ($22) is floral, bone-dry and seriously seductive. All these wines are made from grapes grown in the cool Anderson Valley.

The winery also offers a number of sampler packs and full-case specials. To order, click here or call (800) 537-9463.

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