Kisses Sweeter Than Wine

Dawdle around on the oldies stations long enough, and you’ll hear it. A pathos-laden and groovily roosty little slab of romantically dogmatic pop folklore; “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.” Based on an old Irish folk song, re-interpreted by Leadbelly, and brought into pop form by Pete Seeger and The Weavers, it is the Jimmie Rodgers version I know best, and that is the version that came on this morning as I was driving up the mountain.

“Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.”

It’s a really coy and delightful song, and it swings, and it’s a beautiful narrative, and it’s hooky as all get out; in short, to borrow a line from the Bay Area’s own Greg Kihn, they don’t write ’em like that anymore.

So I was listening to the song, and because mountain driving allows for a great deal of thinking and reflection, I was thinking and reflecting, and what I was first thinking about was, what exactly DO we taste when we taste kisses?

Well, if you’re married to an Italian girl like I am, it’s probably something like beauty, red wine, garlic, stubbornness, and molto dolce!

But seriously, there is, in pop folklore, a great deal of reference to the sweetness of kisses. Clearly the bards of our ballads were tasting a bit of sugar as they were top-side on their typers.

And then I started to reflect on the wine side of the equation. Kisses sweeter than wine. Which would seem to presume a preliminary state of some degree of sweetness in the wine; the better to make the comparison.

Meaning, for the romantic at heart, there is clearly something moving and important and significant about sweet wine, when it comes to the wooing.

So I was thinking, and reflecting, and I got to thinking about Essence.


A rare and wondrous type of wine that Ridge makes ever so rare and wonderfully. In the 50-year history of Ridge, there have not been many of them made. It takes a rather singular confluence of the viticultural stars to even propose the possibility, and even then, it’s a high-risk endeavor to commit to an Essence.

An Essence, put most simply, is a naturally sweet (read: vine-ripened) style of dessert wine crafted from grapes left on the vine for an extended-enough time that they build up acceptable levels of sugar to support the creation of a fine dessert wine, but not so long that the grapes raisin; the wine is meant to be devoid of the raisin-y/pruney-y notes that often bog down otherwise perfectly reasonable sweet wines, and it’s meant to still have some of the structural hallmarks of a proper table wine; acid, tannin, herb, etc. When made correctly, an Essence is quite simply one of the most exquisitely decadent, sensual, and refined wines one could ever hope to taste. They’re just extraordinary.

So I was thinking about kisses, and Essence.

Which reminded me of this:


This, is the Ridge Vineyards Holiday Feast Pack, a rather excellent and unprecedented contribution to our annual offering of Holiday niceties. It is a six-wine assemblage of wines most especially selected just for you; but beyond that, it is a six-wine assemblage of wines most especially paired with recipes for dishes most especially crafted to perfectly complement said six-wine assemblage. For example: the 2010 Ridge Vineyards Lytton Springs paired with Bacon-wrapped Pork Tenderloin & Rosemary-Pomegranate Jus.

And beyond all THAT, is Wine Six. Wine Six, in the Holiday Feast Pack, is … an Essence. A 2003 Stone Ranch Essence. Which is a wine I have awaited the re-emergence of for some time. I had the great pleasure of briefly making its acquaintance back in August of 2009. An experience you can read about here:

The 2003 Stone Ranch has returned again, as Wine Six in the Holiday Feast Pack, and I for one could not be more delighted. And the pairing? Romantic.


One can only imagine the kisses that are sweeter than this.

Unless, of course, you’re married to a molto dolce Italian girl, as I am.

Categories: Food & Wine Pairing, Lytton Springs, Offerings, Tasting Notes, Varietals & Blends, Wine & Food Pairing, Wine & Music, Wine & The Holidays, Zinfandel

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