Odd Pair: Hot Dogs and Claret

Categories: Wine Time

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Hot dogs and their preparation command a quasi-spiritual reverence in our home. Great -- even extreme -- care is taken in preparing the condiments: Heinz Ketchup, Grey Poupon Mustard, Best Maid Sweet Jalapeño Relish, celery salt, and sliced half-sour pickles, in this case requested especially from Kenny & Ziggy's by Tracie P. As you can see above, intense focus is applied to the proper charring of the dogs and buns and the table is meticulously set to allow for ideal conditions in dressing the wieners (in this case, Hebrew Nationals, of course).

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In the light of our noble endeavor, it seemed only fitting to reach for a "Claret," the famous English moniker for the aristocratic red wines of Bordeaux, where stodgy 19th-century British bankers discovered the refinement of Left- and Right-Bank blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot and so on.

I recently remarked to a friend how "the word claret doesn't actually denote red wine. In fact, it denotes light-colored wine." When he responded to my declaration incredulously, I reached for my handy copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, online edition (to which I am an avid and enthusiastic subscriber). Here's what it reported: "A name originally given (like French vin clairet) to wines of yellowish or light red colour, as distinguished alike from 'red wine' and 'white wine'; the contrast with the former ceased about 1600, and it was apparently then used for red wines generally, in which sense it is still, or was recently, dialect. Now applied to the red wines imported from Bordeaux."

It goes without saying that our family budget hardly allows such high aspirations and so I reached not for first, second, or third growth Bordeaux (as they are called, according to the great classification of 1855), but rather a bottle of Donati family Claret from California, which I picked up at the Houston Wine Merchant for less than $20.

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Although I would argue that the inclusion of Syrah in this blend runs contrary to the winemaker's claim that this is a "Bordeaux blend" (in fact, Syrah is grown most famously in the Rhône), I happily embrace the winery's use of the designation Claret in this instance, for an approachable quaffing wine, with good fruit, earnest acidity, and balanced alcohol.

P family hot dog night is a much variegated affair: Between the jalapeño relish, the spicy Poupon (I just love saying Poupon, don't you?), and the sweet ketchup, the enophile is presented with a veritable mine field of impossible pairing options. That's why this straight-forward, chewy, and affordable wine -- chilled for about 20 minutes in the fridge before service -- was perfect.

The only problem was that I gobbled down my two dogs with such celerity (how's that for a pun?), that I only had time to quaff down one glass. Not to worry! I popped this sturdy wine back in the fridge to enjoy another glass the next night with my All American hamburger.



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12 comments
Jeremy Parzen
Jeremy Parzen

now see? This is what I'm talking about when I call wine as an "exegetic tool to decipher our ethos through an epicurean dialectic." In other words, wine is just a wonderful excuse to talk about hot dogs! :) 

Seriously, I'm glad that my post has stirred such healthy (ha!) debate... 

And regarding ketchup, I know, I know... it is diametrically opposed to the canon. But what can I do? I'm guilty as charged! :)

Thanks for the comments, yall! 

Bruce R
Bruce R

Keeping wine in context, is it wrong to call a claret a rose?  And at what point is blush acceptable?  Also, I really dig the roses that hover in the $10 range like Rose de Marie Antoinette.

Jeremy Parzen
Jeremy Parzen

Technically, Claret was a rosé or something closer to it than "red" wine. But it has come to denote red wine today. But it's important to remember that when the British started calling Bordeaux wines "Claret," the wines WERE much lighter in color. Blush — I believe — was a marketing term coined by the Californians in the 70s. Remember the ad campaign, "Love to See You Blush"? I still need to check out the Rosé de Marie Antoinette. Who makes it? 

Bruce R
Bruce R

Nathan's also makes a very good hot dog, as does HEB with their coarse ground beef hot dogs. 

SirRon
SirRon

I was always a Hebrew National guy, but then I discovered Nathan's. It is a surperior dog. Try 'em side by side (especially when grilled) and you won't go back.

Laurie
Laurie

I need to buy some Nathan's. Have you seen a grocery store that carries Vienna Beef? I respect your taste!

SirRon
SirRon

Laurie, Vienna does sell them retail, but I've never seen them in this region. If you are ever in Chicago, their factory store is pretty cool to visit. You'll dig the Nathan's though. I don't mind sticking my neck out for that one.

Jeremy Parzen
Jeremy Parzen

SirRon, I plan to try out Nathan's this summer (have never been impressed by the Nathan's chain though).

Laurie, when in Chicago, Vienna Beef is king, no? Love it... 

Laurie
Laurie

Thanks for the HEB suggestion. I dont think I have ever noticed them before.

Jeremy Parzen
Jeremy Parzen

btw, I bought my Hebrew Nationals at HEB. I did notice that they have a pretty nice selection of HEB brand dogs. 

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

Hebrew Nationals are the only brand worth buying around here. Boar's Head will do in a pinch. If you're ever up North and happen upon Hoffman's (particularly the white hots) grab them & thank me later.

Also I'm with Laurie--no ketchup on dogs, pleez.

Laurie
Laurie

I also am an avid fan of Hebrew National, and they make a still enjoyable light version. But ketchup on a hot dog. Yeck.

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