In my History of Italy, France and Spain in Ten Glasses classes I talk about the important contributions that the Muslims made to the history of wine and spirits. For openers, the Muslim invaders brought with them the art and science of distillation, which they used for producing perfumes and medicinal elixirs. It took distillation in the hands of Christian monks to produce a different elixir, one known as the “water of life,” or Whisky. Muslims also brought with them a better understanding of astronomy and the impact of planetary motion on agriculture, which in turn improved the growing of crops, especially grapes. Lastly, the Muslims brought with them the vine – specifically vines of the Muscat grape. Despite the conflict that has raged between Christians, Jews and Muslims over the last 2,000+ years, I think we wine and spirits lovers should take a moment to say thanks.

So I’m not waxing poet about world peace, but I am going to rave about a lovely wine from Spain – the 2010 Torres Viña Esmeralda, a terrific blend of Muscat (85%) and Gewurztraminer (15%), giving the wine an exceptionally exotic nose and palate. A “light” wine at 11.5% alcohol (I seem to recall when a “light” wine contained 5% – 7% alcohol), the forward fruit provides the teasing impression of sweetness, but the finish is crisp and food-friendly. At an average retail price of $13.99 per bottle, you really can’t go wrong.

My tasting note:

Perfumed, floral nose with honeysuckle, lychee and pear hints – gorgeous! Light-bodied with moderate acidity – crisp and clean – well balanced. Citrus and exotic fruit palate – lemon, apricot and papaya notes – smooth. Moderate length – light and refreshing. Drinking well – not for aging, although the screw cap will keep the wine fresh for a while.

Perfect for the Thanksgiving table!