This upcoming wine tasting is historically significant in that it’s the first meeting ever in which I will not be there sharing the joy. My family is coming into town tonight, and tomorrow morning we board a plane for a state to the west of here. I won’t tell you which one it is, but I will tell you that there might be a luau involved, maybe some black-sand beaches, maybe the occasional volcano, a little bit of “Lilo and Stitch” action. So right now you’re thinking either Alaska or Hawaii, and you’d be right…. I’ll tell you which one when I get back.
Our last food / wine barbecue went really well, and since Barbecue Season here in LA is basically without limits, there’s no reason not to have another “wines for the grill” food-pairing night. Erik will be hosting — providing the grill, the cutlery, and the ambience (i.e. they just got a new hammock chair which apparently is da bomb) — and you alkies just need to bring the wine and the food. Last time we did pretty well with the “bring whatever you want” concept. Some people brought wine, some people brought food, some people brought both. The best way to do it, I think, is to get someone else involved… one person brings wine, one brings food, and you figure out between you what you think would taste good together.
Please don’t feel like you need to bring enough food for everyone to have a whole serving, by any means. For example, if you’re bringing steak, everyone does NOT need their own 12 oz. steak. Same goes for fish, chicken, kebabs, or even burgers. Everyone is going to want to taste a little of everything rather than a lot of one or two things. It’s about the pairings, after all. This is still a Young Winos official tasting, got it? It’s not some crazy backyard BBQ party. It’s not a forum in which to have fun. We’re here to learn.
In terms of what bottle to bring, this is a great opportunity for you to share with the whole group a wine that you particularly enjoy. If you have a favorite wine from a region we’ve already done or from one we haven’t reached yet, please bring it along. Recently we’ve done Alsace and Germany, both great regions for fruity white wines that might do well with barbecued food… same deal with Australia and especially New Zealand. Or what about a Chilean red, or a sparkling wine from last week? Anyway, bring whatever you want, and don’t forget that domestic rose (blush) wines like White Zinfandel are perfectly reasonable barbecue fare, even if they’re not always ideal for drinking on their own. And there are many other possibilities as well. If you’re having trouble picking a wine, here are some suggestions, which I gleaned from the Bible as well as a couple websites:
GRILLED STEAK with Sangiovese / Chianti
With its underlying acidity and hint of saltiness, Sangiovese is stunning when set off by the richness and fat of the beef.
GRILLED VEGETABLES or CHICKEN with Zinfandel
Zinfandel’s jammy fruitiness is an easygoing match.
GRILLED VEGGIES / PORTABELLA MUSHROOMS with Sauvignon Blanc.
The crisp character and naturally tart, herbal overtones of Sauvignon Blanc are very much at home among these fresh garden flavors.
MAHI MAHI and PINEAPPLE CHUTNEY with Chardonnay.
Try a California or Australian Chardonnay – wines with lots of ripe fruit flavors that marry well with pineapple chutney and provide a luscious counterpoint to the grilled fish.
MARINATED CHICKEN with Beaujolais.
Chicken and Beaujolais are almost always a great match, but the light fruitiness and good acidity of Beaujolais will be especially delightful as a complement to a coriander and lime marinade.
Obviously we cannot forget burgers, and here’s a website that suggests wine to pair with burgers depending on what the toppings are: http://www.fabulousfoods.com
We’ll be returning to Erik’s awesome little enclave in Venice, which is well worth the trip. Here’s his address and directions: (censoRED)
The following week we get back into California, starting with the Santa Barbara region, so maybe you’ll want to bring a Santa Barbara wine as a preview. Very sorry I won’t be there to hang out with you guys, but it’s gonna be an awesome meeting, I have no doubt. So have fun, enjoy yourselves, and I’ll bring you back some Alaskan halibut.