Did you know that Alaska is our easternmost state? It's true, dammit, and all your fervent, teary denials won't make it any less so. A sliver of the Aleutian Islands crosses 180 degrees longitude, where West gives way to East. And since most of that longitude includes the International Date Line, some people think Alaska observes two days at the same time. The cartographers are more prudent than that. They made it so the Date Line skirts the Aleutians and thus includes them in a continuous 24-hour cycle—so dry your eyes, already.
Alas, then, the locals can't in good conscience hoist a beverage to that elusive extra day. If they could, they'd likely be quaffing something from the Denali Winery, home to a surprising array of stuff from a state where wine manufacture is hardly a public mantra. But this venue does hold its own and then some in the “different” department—the cold-weather fruits and wildberries it uses are hardier and more persistent in their fight for survival, and the taste and finish of any of its Merlots reflect that. The textures are plump and vaguely brittle, a highly interesting match with edgier cheeses and thicker meats like moose, caribou and venison (which Alaskans eat regularly). You have to develop a taste for such fare, and you might find the same is true of this wine.
The Denali Winery, out of Anchorage, has been in business only since 1997, a drop in the bucket against the more renowned estates around here. But it's a great base from which to learn more about Alaska (I know this because I visited just before moving to California from Seattle), and at $19.99, its Merlots are an inexpensive means to rethinking your palate. Now, get on www.denaliwinery.com or down to one of the better wine stores and test the theory—but not before one last gargantuan blow of the nose. There, there.