Hot Weather – Cool Wine

boston summerWe’ve been experiencing the last vestiges of Summer here in the United States (well, except for our friends in Alaska).  Autumn is soon upon us and there’s no reason to leave those lovely summer wines in the cooler.  I’ve been enjoying my favorites, the Martin Codax Albarino,  from Spain, Fantini Trebbiano-d-Abruzzo from Italy and most recently I found a new favorite white, Domaine Guillemarine Picpoul from France.  We were in Burlington, Vermont and had the fortune of stopping in at the Vin Bar . I had never heard of a Picpoul wine, let alone tried it.  This is a beautiful white wine, similar to the Albarino but with more acidity to it.  The price is reasonable and if you’re lucky enough to find it in your shop, I recommend getting two bottles.

Keep in mind almost all white wines that have a high degree of minerality and acidity go with chilled white wineshellfish and seafood.  Another easy way to figure a pairing is where the foods come from.  If you’re eating food of a particular country, France, Spain, Italy, etc., then those foods will naturally go with the wine of that region.   And, if there is a lot of acidity in the food (such as tomatoes) then a wine with acidity (Barbera) will go with that food.  Salty and Sweet pair well (Port and Blue Cheese, or Sauterne and Blue Cheese), and sweet fruits (cherries, plums, berries) go well with most Rosé wines, dry (Pinot Noir) and not as dry (Grenache Rosé or Mourvèdre Rosé – or a blend).

Chilled-red-wineAnother thought when you’re experiencing warm weather, you can, and should, chill the lighter of the red wines to 60 degrees.  The lighter reds that I keep in my cooler are; Pinot Noir, Barbera, Petite Sirah,  and Australian Shiraz (the lighter style, not the dark inky style). These wines will change as they warm up and their flavors will soften, giving you different notes and aromas to experience.

The table below is a simple list of easy to access wine for warm/hot weather and some easy pairings.  Your tastes may differ, this is just a starting point.  What will you be pairing with your chilled wine?

Type of Wine Name of Wine Easy Pairing
WHITE
Albarino Burgans Albarino Baixas Rioja White Spicy Indian and Thai
Albarnio Martin Codax Arugula Salad
Chenin Blanc (South African) De Morgenzon Reserve Turkey, Cranberry
Chenin Blanc (Blend) Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier Pork, Nuts, Cheddar Cheese
Grüner Veltliner Höpler Wiener Schnitzel,   Green Beans,
Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio DaVinci Lemon Chicken, Fennel salad
Riesling (Dry) Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Riesling Asian Food
Sauvignon Blanc (French) Joseph Destinea Mellot Chicken, Turkey, Chives, Green Veggies
Vermentino Fattoria Pagliaatura Vermentino Pasta with Seafood, Herbs & Citrus
Vino Verde Casal Garcia Light Cheese, Chips (drinks well alone)
Viognier Cline Curry or Asian Food
White Bordeaux Ducasse Blanc Tarragon Chicken, Asparagus
White Burgundy La Chablisienng Roast Chicken with Mushrooms
ROSÉ
Grenache Alloy Wine Works “Tin City” Melon and Prosciutto, Salade Nicoise
Tempranillo Mas Que Vinos Ercavio Greek Cuisine, Paella, Grilled Sausage
Pinot Noir Rive Sud Grilled Pork or Beef, Quiche
Provence Bandol Artichokes, Caesar Salad
RED
Barbera Mati Grilled Beef, Mushrooms
Grenache (American) Alban Vineyards Estate Grenache Spicy Grilled Meat and Vegetables.
Petite Sirah McManis Barbeque Beef, Duck, Lamb
Pinot Noir Acrobat Herbed Pork Roast, Lamb

Fourth Course – Salad! Arugula, Radicchio, and Fennel Salad

salad startIn some establishments, the fourth course of a European Five Course Meal is a salad.   In the U.S. the salad typically comes before the main course but for this blog I’m going with the European style (actually works better with my work week and the weather around here).  I’m very excited about this Arugula, Radicchio, And Fennel Salad.  I had this salad when visiting my mom in California.  We had dinner at an Italian restaurant in her neighborhood, 54 Mint,  and I loved the salad so much we basically dissected it to figure out the recipe.  I found a recipe close to what I wanted at Saveur.com, adding the additional ingredients that were in my salad that night.   The recipe I found is as follows:

Ingredients

  • 4 cups packed baby arugula
  • 1 small fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 small head radicchio, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1⁄2 cup shaved Parmesan
  • 3⁄4 cup toasted walnuts

Instructions

Combine arugula, fennel, and radicchio in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper; toss with salad. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and walnuts to serve.

My additions:  Baby Olives, Blue Cheese (Feta would also work) and Mandarin Oranges.Hawaiian-Black-Lava-Sea-Salt   We prefer the Plymouth Blue Cheese, the Big Blue, which is made locally.  I used 1/4 cup of Organic Balsamic Vinegar and cut down on the lemon juice – to  two tablespoons.  Spanish Melgarejo Hojiblanca Olive Oil and Hawaiian Black Lava Sea Salt were used in the dressing.   I chilled the mandarin oranges and olives before adding them to the salad.

barberaWe paired this with a Scagliola Mati Barbera.  We also tried a slightly chilled DeLoach Heritage Reserve Pinot Noir but found the complex herb essence of the Pinot Noir competed against all of the different flavors in the salad.  The licorice taste of the fennel and the licorice notes in the Pinot did compliment each other but there was too much going on in the salad to make this a really good pairing.  The Mati Barbera was the better wine pairing with this salad.  This wine had just deloachenough spice to blend with the pepper of the arugula but did not struggle against the balsamic vinegar and fennel.  As with most reds, both the Pinot Noir and Barbera were better after being opened for 20-30 minutes.  I always serve a Pinot Noir slightly chilled – about 60 degrees, especially in warm weather.

We enjoyed this salad, there is a lot going on in it but the flavors meld nicely.  The fennel, radicchio and toasted walnuts keep the crunch going, the arugula provides salad finalenough spice to blend with the cheeses and the oranges give it a touch of sweetness.

Next course is the desert!  Roasted Pears with Blue Cheese – Yum.