The Grape Escape: Logging your wine ‘life list’

I spotted a hilariously bizarre line of bathroom graffiti years ago at an eatery along an interstate highway somewhere in Wyoming. It read, “Roger Tory Peterson never saw a prothonotary warbler.” But what does this have to do with wine?

Simple: It’s my view that wine appreciation is just as much a hobby as, well, bird-watching. And if a noted ornithologist like Mr. Peterson can derive pleasure from keeping a detailed “life list” of the birds he sees, then why shouldn’t wine lovers do the same with the wines we taste?

I bring an extra sense of anticipation to a bottle of wine from a country, region or grape that I haven’t experienced before. That Japanese cabernet I picked up in Kyoto and the nondescript Peruvian red I tasted in Lima stand out in my palate’s memory not because they were great wines, but because they were different wines.

Wine’s vast diversity makes it more interesting than any other beverage. For all our love of cabernet, pinot, merlot or chardonnay, it’s a treat to switch now and then to a wine made from, say, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso or xarel-lo.

Here’s a recent oddity from my list: an Arneis, made from a white grape from northern Italy that hasn’t yet become a household word.

Matteo Correggia 2009 Roero Arneis ($17.99)

Clear straw color with a brassy hue. Fresh and appetizing aromas of honeydew melon and lime foreshadow a bone-dry white-fruit flavor shaped by mouth-watering acidity, with a hint of toasted-almond bitterness in the finish. Fine with seafood and fish, and a treat with robust flavors, like our risotto with browned onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies and Pecorino Romano cheese.