Our Own 'Sideways' Trip – First of Four Parts
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On an October midday, the two of us and our 18-year-old Roman cat Maya, left sunny Marin County and headed south on beautiful, scenic Highway 1, driving leisurely and enjoying the breathtaking views of rocky cliffs plunging dramatically into the ocean, that is, after we left the foggy blanket that enveloped us from Sausalito, just before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, all the way to Pacifica.
We spent the first night in Carmel-by-the-Sea, at the Carmel Resort Inn, an original, unpretentious, homey hotel consisting of independent wooden bungalows scattered in a pleasantly landscaped block between Second and First Avenue on Carpenter Street, about a mile from the ocean and a few walking blocks from the cute downtown with its art galleries, boutiques and restaurants.
We dined at Tutto Mondo Trattoria, an excellent Italian restaurant just off central Ocean Avenue, on Dolores Street. Though we usually prefer Italian wines, we had decided that on our 'Sideways' trip would drink California wines only, and for our first dinner Brigit choose a 2002 St. Francis Old Vine Zinfandel from Sonoma.
It was very good, jammy, full-bodied, well-balanced and with just the right hints of oak, but I consider its 15+% alcohol content to be way too high for a table wine.
In fact, one of the reasons why I do prefer Italian wines is their lower alcoholic content, in addition to the greater variety and flavors offered by the Italian wine production in general. With some notable exceptions, such as Amarone from Veneto and Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany among others, most Italian wines average between 12% and 13.5% alcohol by volume.
Italians enjoy drinking their wines with their long meals and the lower alcohol content allows for a few more glasses at dinner without waking up the next morning with dry, flannel mouth and a heavy head.