Summer is Here (Hot Dog!) … Let the Cookouts Begin … Enjoy some Dogs with a Funky Australian Red … (It’s the Label!)

Pairing: Grilled Hot Dogs with Baked Beans and Cole Slaw Paired with 2018 19 Crimes: The Uprising Red Blend from Australia.

Food: Summer here in New Hampshire has officially begun. Well … OK … the unofficial start of summer… since astronomically speaking … the official start of summer, the Summer Solstice, in the Northern Hemisphere is not until Tuesday, June 21 at 5:14 am EDT. But, I digress. It’s getting warm out there and we try to do as much of our living outside, including, of course, cooking and eating … i.e., having a cookout.

In our family, our first cookout (usually on or near the Memorial Day weekend) is always … drumroll please … hot dogs!! Every person in the country has their own favorite way of cooking and eating them. For us purists, the dog is poked onto a carefully found and selected live green twig and cooked over an open fire. Once cooked to the right “doneness” (everyone has their own best degree of charred-ness), the dog is then placed into a New England style bun (please .. there is no other kind), lightly buttered and toasted. The dog is then judiciously coated with some favorite condiments, though some in the purist camp prefer them unadorned. Served with baked beans and coleslaw … perfection is achieved. Summer has officially arrived. Enjoy!

Wine: Let’s start with a very reasonable assumption … wine is a terrific accompaniment to hot dogs at a cookout. Now you might have thought about beer, but bear with me. “19 Crimes” is a brand of wine named for the behaviors that would get you transported from England to Australia when it was a penal colony. Hence the dark and scary label. Made of 86% Shiraz, 7% Merlot, and 7% Cabernet, it is bold enough to stand up to any charred dog and the side dishes as well.

Tasting Notes:  Color can be described as reddish purple (or the redder side of purple). This wine offers solid aromas of blackberry and black currant. The taste is BIG … like jam made from a combination of cooked black currant, black raspberry, blackberry, black cherries. One can also detect flavors of some fresh fruit … like strawberry. A pleasant light cedar background is also present. Soft tannins hold the fruit flavors together very well. And the finish lingers delightfully long. The spiciness of the hot dogs advances the the fruit flavors Cooking the hot dogs over an open fire adds yet another layer of perfection. Can’t you just taste it?

Other Wines That Pair Well with Hot Dogs: Beaujolais (France), Riesling (Germany), Zinfandel (Sonoma County), Pinot Noir (Oregon)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Red Blend: Meatloaf, Beef Stew, Roasted Pheasant, Rabbit

More About the Living Wine Labels: Living Wine Labels

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A New England Fourth of July … Salmon, New Potatoes, and Fresh Peas … Paired with a Chardonnay from Oregon

Pairing:  Salmon, New Potatoes, and Peas Paired with a 2014 Domaine Drouhin “Arthur” Chardonnay (Dundee Hills, Oregon)

Food:  When most of us who call the U.S. of A. home think of food on the Fourth of July (Independence Day), we most often conjure up images of cookouts with hamburgers and hotdogs sizzling on the grill, served on buns (New England style, of course) toasted to perfection, baked beans, and great handfuls of potato chips. What could be better fare to watch the fireworks?

But there is another tradition particularly  for folks who hail from one of the New England states … a  classic meal of salmon, new potatoes, and freshly picked and shelled peas. Although traditionally the salmon is poached and served with an egg sauce, we’ve simplified the dish by grilling the salmon that has been seasoned with salt, pepper, and tarragon. The new potatoes and peas are generously buttered. The Founding Fathers would be pleased!

Salmon on The Fourth

Wine:  The Willamette Valley is arguably one of the premiere wine regions anywhere on the planet, and is favorably compared with the Burgundy region in France. And, like in Burgundy, two grapes dominate the winemaking landscape in much of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It is no coincidence, then, that one of the leading winemakers in the Willamette Valley is Domaine Drouhin, part of the same Drouhin family responsible for some of Burgundy’s most  important, historic and prestigious wines. It’s no wonder that Drouhin’s foray into the Willamette Valley, specifically the Dundee Hills sub-region, has be so successful. Their Arthur Chardonnay is an delightful example of an Oregonian Chardonnay and great with grilled salmon to help celebrate the Fourth of July in style.

Drouhin Oregon Chardonnay

Tasting Notes:  A lovely medium gold color (16 -18 Karat). Nose:  A big aroma of ripe melon … intoxicating! Lush melon clearly orchestrates the flavors of the wine … Charentais melon, perhaps. This Oregon Chardonnay is reminiscent of a white Burgundy with a delicate hint of sweetness. Very well balanced. Like good French food, you often can’t distinguish among the individual elements, but they add up to a wonderful ‘whole’. Pairs perfectly with the salmon, and especially nice with the freshly shelled peas!

Other Wines That Pair Well with Salmon:  Pinot Noir (Oregon), Riesling (New York), White Burgundy (France), Pinot Grig (Alsace)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Chardonnay: Crab Cakes, Roasted Chicken, Sautéed Scallops, Wild Mushrooms

Views of the Beautiful Willamette Valley Oregon Wine Region:  Willamette Valley

A Source:  www.

Mussels with Saffron and Cream (Mouclade Vendéenne) … excellent with Vermentino di Gallura

Pairing:  Mussels with Saffron and Cream (served with a side of Broccoli), Paired with a 2014 Canayli Vermentino di Gallura Superiore

Food: The Vendee region of western France lies along the coast south of the Loire River. It is perhaps best known for the War of the Vendee, a counter-revolutionary uprising during the French Revolution in 1793 that resulted in the death of thousands of Vendeenne farmers and peasants.

But the Vendee is known for something far more pleasant … mussels. As the story goes, in 1237 an Irish boat captain was shipwrecked on a deserted stretch of Vendee coastline. To survive, he set out traps to catch birds. The sticks he used to elevate the traps above the water were soon covered with huge mussels, much larger than those growing on the rocks. Today mussels are still cultivated in this same way in the Vendee, contributing significantly to the regional economy.

La Mouclad Vendeenne is a treasured dish that pays homage to this our favorite mollusk, as well as other flavors and ingredients of this beautiful land and seascape. Butter, onions, garlic, dry white wine, cognac, saffron, curry powder, a pinch of cayenne, and cream are all combined expertly and lovingly by chef and author Ann Willam in her cookbook, French Regional Cooking, her 1981 classic. We turn to this book again and again for both inspiration and masterful technique.

Wine:  Vermentino is most often associated with the Mediterranean Islands of Corsica (France) and Sardinia (Italy). Elsewhere Vermentino is found in the Liguria and Piedmont wine regions of Italy, and Provence in far southern France. The grape is said to have been brought to Corsica from Spain in the 12th Century, although no actual documentation appears until 1658 pairing and that in the Piedmont region in northwestern Italy. Complicating things further is the reality that Vermentino goes by other names. In the stunningly beautiful Riviera di Ponente zone of Liguria (think Cinque Terre) it is known as Pigato; in southern France (Provence) it is Rolle; and in the Piedmont wine region it goes by the name Favorita. With that said, this Canayli Vermentino comes from Sardinia where the grape is a relative newcomer, first plantings having been done in the late 20th Century.

Tasting Notes: A deep yellow-gold cold. The fragrance of mango and apricot are both present on the nose, and very pleasant to just sit and sniff. But do taste it. The flavor of apricots reverberates on the palate, joined by the taste of slightly tart green grapes. Dry, distinctive and delicious. The hint of sweetness of the wine plays off very nicely on the rich spiciness of the mussel sauce. An excellent pairing.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Mussels with Saffron and Cream: Muscadet (Loire, France), White Bordeaux (France), Sauvignon Blanc (California), Viognier (Australia)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Vermentino:  Grilled Fish (e.g. Striped Bass), Pesto, Shrimp, Scallops

Views of the Vende Region: Vendee Region

A Source:  www.

Scallops with Sun-dried Tomatoes on Pasta … Paired Nicely with a New Hampshire Frontenac Gris

Pairing: Pan-Seared Scallops with Penne, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Garlic served with Fiddlehead Greens, Paired with a 2013 Walpole New Hampshire Mountain View Winery Frontenac Gris

Food: Jasper White is widely regarded as a leading authority on traditional and contemporary New England food (notably seafood). For our dish we used White’s recipe for Cape Scallops Sautéed with Garlic and Sun-dried Tomatoes, from Jasper White’s Cooking from New England., one of our most dog-eared volumes on our cook bookshelf. The major addition we made to the recipe was to toss the scallop mixture into cooked penne. And … the penne we used was made entirely from red lentil flour. Amazing!! Delicious!! And serving the scallops and penne with fresh fiddlehead greens was (modestly) inspiring. There just aren’t enough superlatives to describe this wonderful meal paired with a very nice local wine.

Wine: Frontenac is a cold weather tolerant wine grape, developed in 1978 at the University of Minnesota; a cross between Landot Noir and a wild grape variety found in Minnesota and also known for its cold tolerance. Frontenac Gris is a mutation of Frontenac. Frontenac Gris is considered to be the white version of Frontenac (a red wine), though its color is more accurately described as amber or peach. It is grown in many northern U.S. states, including Michigan, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire, and in some Canadian provinces, notably Quebec. Quebec is where another grape mutation was recently discovered, namely, Frontenac Blanc.

Tasting Notes:  The color of the Walpole Mountain View Frontenac Gris is decidedly amber. It possesses a lovely fragrance of honey (maybe Sourwood?) and toasted hazelnut. On the palate one can readily taste caramel, hazelnut, vanilla, and peach-apricot jam. The food and the wine make for a beautiful visual pairing. The flavor of the sun-dried tomatoes and the hazelnut element of the wine make for a terrific combination. And, the apricot flavor really shows up on the finish. A very nice pairing.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Scallops and Sun-dried Tomatoes: Chenin Blanc (South Africa), Sauvignon Blanc (California), Gruner Veltliner (Austria), Gewurstraminer (Alsace, France)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Frontenac Gris:  Lobster Rolls, Chicken Salad, Ham and Cheese Sandwiches, Leftover Turkey (Cold)

More About the New Hampshire Wineries: New Hampshire Wineries

A Source: liquor and wine outlets

Chicken Roasted with Oranges … Served with an Exquisite Condrieu

Pairing: Chicken Roasted with Oranges, Rosemary and Bay Leaves, Served with Barley Pilaf and Peas, Paired with a 2015 E. Guigal Condrieu

Food: There are so many wonderful seasonings and ingredients that make a simple roast chicken even better (Is that possible?). Raising our own flock of hens year after year has given us ample opportunities to try umpteen recipes and to experiment with a vast array of flavorings. This recipe … Chicken Roasted with Oranges, Rosemary and Bay … has become a family favorite. Amanda Hesser’s singular book, The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Writings from the French Countryside is the source of this inspired recipe. A roasting chicken is first marinated in a combination of freshly squeezed oranges, garlic, rosemary, bay leaves, and the remaining orange rinds. Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours, basting several times in the marinade. Make a sauce out of the marinade and some rich stock (Hesser recommends duck stock). What a memorable integration of flavors! And paired with the Condrieu, it ascends to the stratosphere!

Note: Amanda Hesser is a great writer. Her book is a really good read even if you never make any of the recipes.

Wine: I have said this before, but,… what the heck … I will say it again. If I have a favorite white wine, and … let’s be honest … I do … it has to be Condrieu, the appellation of the Viognier grape grown along a short stretch of the Northern Rhone River. Condrieu is the exemplar … the standard bearer … of the Viognier grape. And to think that Viognier almost completely disappeared. As recently as the 1960’s, the last vestiges of the grape were holding out on a few acres in some quiet corners of Condrieu. A resurgence occurred in the late 20th and early 21st Century as growers and winemakers responded to the growing interest from wine aficionados. Viognier is now grown all over the globe, some of the best coming from South Africa, Australia, California, and elsewhere in France (e.g., Languedoc-Roussillon).

Tasting Notes: Beautiful dark gold in color. Fragrant bouquet of ripe yellow peach, honey and orange (the blossom and the ripe fruit). The palate is light and refreshing with the gorgeous flavor of Charentais melon and honey with only the barest touch of sweetness. Very drinkable by itself (delightful actually), and pairs astonishingly well with the orange overtones to the roast chicken. “It tastes the way an orange smells!” “Gosh … this is good!!” And now … a little musical interlude … bluegrass!! … Orange Blossom Special.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Roast Chicken with Oranges: Riesling (Germany), Chardonnay (California), Semillon (Australia), Gewürztraminer (Alsace)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Condrieu:  Crab Cakes, Lobster, Filet Mignon (with Citrus Hollandaise), Roast Pork with Fruit Glaze or Sauce (Mango, Peach, Orange)

Views of the Condrieu Wine Region: Condrieu

A Source:  www.

Grilled, Marinated Lamb … a Classic Pairing with a Margaux (Bordeaux)

Pairing: Marinated Lamb Grilled in an Open Fireplace Paired with a 2012 Chateau D’Issan Margaux  

Food: Roasting a leg of lamb that’s been studded with thin slices of garlic has been the traditional way of preparing lamb … at least in our family. But … hold on. Boning the leg, butterflying the removed meat, marinating it, then grilling the lamb over a hot wood fire is rapidly becoming our new favorite way to enjoy this delicious meat. Butterflying a leg of lamb is relatively easy … if you are comfortable around a sharp knife (!). This video provides good, easy to follow, guidance for accomplishing this task. We use Martha Stewart’s excellent recipe as the basis for this wonderful meal. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper, then marinate the meat overnight in a combination of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary, and oregano. For rare to medium-rare doneness, grill the lamb over a hot fire for about 8 minutes on a side, then let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. We like to cook the meat over an open wood fire (which adds a wonderful smokey flavor) and serve the sliced lamb with asparagus and popovers. What a treat!

Wine: The Haut Medoc wine region of Bordeaux is home to arguably the four most prestigious wine districts in all of Bordeaux, Maybe, according to some, even in all of France (Hmmmm … really?) Anyway, these four districts are Pauillac, Saint-Estephe, Saint-Julien, and Margaux, and all have a well-deserved reputation. Located in Margaux is Chateau d’Issan … this estate dates back to the 12th Century, there being claims that wine from the estate was served at the wedding of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henri Plantagenet, the future king of England, on 18 May 1152. Their 2012 vintage Margaux is made from Cabernet Sauvignon (67%) and Merlot (33%). This is a wine for special occasions.

Grand Cru Classe En 1855

Tasting Notes:  The color is red with a reddish-brown tint. The bouquet is that of fresh hedgerow smells, including service berry, blackberry, red currant, and bay. Some new leather sneaks in there, too. The palate is delightfully complex with layers of hedgerow (including some of the wood), spice notes (allspice and cloves), rosemary, oregano, black olive, cigar box and leather. Quite extraordinary. The rosemary and leather carry the long, lingering finish. The herbs in the marinade tease those flavors out of the wine. The pairing of the margaux and the lamb couldn’t be better. The wine complements the food, the food complements the wine. That’s what pairing is all about.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Grilled Lamb: Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa, California), Aglianico (Italy), Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley, California), Hermitage (Rhone Valley, France)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Red Bordeaux (Margaux): Roast Chicken or Pheasant, Venison, Duck, Filet Mignon

Maps of Bordeaux and the Haut Medoc Wine Region: Haut Medoc

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Lamb Shanks and Homemade Noodles … A Delight with an Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Pairing: Lamb Shanks and Homemade Noodles, Paired with a 2013 Dutcher Crossing Cooney Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (from Alexander Valley) 

Food: This meal started life as my mother’s signature dish, Lamb Shanks and Spaghetti, and all of us loved it. Her version was simplicity itself … two or three meaty lamb shanks, tomato juice, chili powder, green peppers, salt and pepper. Braise the meat for a few hours in the juice and seasonings. When the meat is practically falling off the bones, remove all of the meat from the bones, skim the fat off the remaining liquid, reduce until thickened and serve over Ronzoni spaghetti (Is there another kind?). We couldn’t get enough of it.

Fast forward sixty + years. Now the pasta of choice is homemade noodles made with white whole wheat flour, semolina, and an egg. Our lamb shanks come from a nearby sheep farm. Let’s see … tomato juice — check, peppers — check, chili powder – check, seasoning — check. Pretty much the same as Mom’s dish except, of course, for the thick, chewy homemade noodles. That change brings an already yummy dish to another whole level.

Thick-cut Homemade Whole Wheat and Semolina Noodles with Lamb Shanks in a Light Tomato Sauce

Wine: One would be hard pressed to find a better place to produce Cabernet Sauvignon than the Alexander Valley in Sonoma County. Within its vast 3 million acres resides California’s North Coast, one of the world’s premier wine regions. It contains Napa, Sonoma, Russian River Valley, Stag’s Leap, and Carneros, often referred to as “the aristocracy of American Wine”. The Alexander Valley, located in the northern part of Sonoma enjoys a warm, dry growing season with cool evenings due to its proximity to the coast and the cooler fog that rolls inland in the evening. The soils are deep alluvial gravel, requiring the vines to expend considerable energy just to grow deep roots to access the limited water. This provides just the right level of “stress” forcing the vines to focus their remaining energy on producing small, thick-skinned grapes with concentrated sugars. These are particularly good conditions for producing superb Cabernet Sauvignon. And, in our opinion, Dutcher Crossing Winery is among the very best producers of Cab in this stellar wine region.

Tasting Notes:  Color is deep, dark garnet … almost black. Aroma of black currant dominates the nose, while a littler bit of fragrant leather sneaks in. The palate shows off some very nicely balanced tannins to help show off the jammy black currant and fresh blueberries. An exceptional Cab that goes perfectly with the flavors of rich lamb, spicy chili, and robust tomato. The rustic whole wheat noodles add even more depth to the dish. Delicious.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Lamb Shanks and Noodles: Shiraz (Australia), Malbec (Argentina), Rioja (Spain), Zinfandel (Sonoma, California)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Cabernet Sauvignon:  Steak Au Poivre, Blue Cheese, Chocolate (Dark, Bittersweet), Grilled Hamburgers

More About the Alexander Valley Wine Region: Alexander Valley

A Source: Dutcher Crossing Winery

Duck Confit from SW France … Perfectly Paired with an Old Vine Madiran

Pairing:  Duck Confit with Traditional Accompaniments of Red Cabbage and French Green Lentils, Paired with a 2012 Chateau Peyros Madiran Vieilles Vignes (from Southwest France)

Food: Confit is a centuries-old method of curing and preserving meat done almost exclusively in France. In fact, confit is the French word for preserve. The method is most often done with duck, although we have also enjoyed confit of turkey, rabbit, chicken, and pork. But duck confit is the gold standard and rendered duck fat is used to preserve any of the other meats. We use the recipe in Anne Willan’s French Regional Cooking as the basis for our duck confit. Cut the duck into serving pieces, including the back and the wings. Put all the pieces into a non-reactive bowl and rub salt into each piece thoroughly on all sides, then sprinkle all the pieces with black pepper and thyme. Cover and chill for 10 to 12 hours. Wipe off the seasoning. Set the oven at 300 degrees (F). Place the duck pieces in a flameproof skillet (e.g., cast iron) and cook the meat over a low heat for about 15-20 minutes. The fat will run from the duck and the meat will lightly brown. Remove from the heat and add enough duck fat to cover the duck in the skillet. Cover and put in the oven for three hours until the duck meat is very tender. At this point you preserve the duck pieces by putting the meat into wide mouth Mason jars and pour the liquid duck fat into the jars to completely cover and seal the duck pieces. Preserved this way, the duck will keep for several months in the refrigerator. The taste of duck done this way is absolutely mind blowing, and, surprisingly, neither salty nor fatty.

Wine: Big … bold … powerful …. muscular … these are the adjectives often used to describe Madiran, the wine that many would say most decidedly defines the cuisine of Gascony, the South West region of France. It is not for the faint of heart. Full-bodied, chewy texture, pronounced tannins, big flavor. Madiran is the perfect companion to the rich, hearty foods that identify the ubiquitous gastronomy of France’s magnificent rustic cuisine — cassoulet, confit, jambon de Bayonne, sauce perigueux, beef daube — to name just a few of the classics.

The Madiran appellation, located in the hill country facing the Pyrenees Mountains in South West France (see map), is focused entirely on the production of red wine, primarily that made from the Tannat grape. Chateau Peyros dates back to the 17th century. Although their wines are predominately Tannat (by law, to be called Madiran the wine must be at least 60 to 80 percent Tannat), the wine is most often blended with other “big wine grapes” grown in the region like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France, and, to a lesser extent, Fer Servadou, a grape sourced almost exclusively in the region of Gascony.

Tasting Notes:  The color is a deep, dark purple red. The nose can best be described as earthy notes of rich soils of a forest floor in late autumn. Can’t you just smell it!? On the palate, the robust tannins bring out the flavors of earth, rosemary, sage, and roast meat. This wine was made for duck confit. The big muscular tannins are softened by the generous fat in the duck yielding an astonishing flavor. The rosemary comes out in the long finish, which seems to go on and on. Madiran really benefits from a long decanting time … from 5 hours to 2 days. Seriously. An amazing wine!

Other Wines That Pair Well with Duck Confit: Tannat/ Merlot Blend (Uruguay), Malbec (Argentina), Cot and Auxerrois (Cahors, France), Cote de Bergerac (South West France)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Madiran:  Cassoulet, Grilled Sausage, Country Pate, Mousse de Canard

More About Madiran Wine:  Madiran Wine

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Greek Pizza … A Perfect Pairing with Assyrtiko, a Wine Seeming to be Created for Greek Pizza

Pairing:  Greek Pizza (with Feta, Spinach, and Oil-cured Olives) Paired with a 2014 Santo Wines Grande Reserve Assyrtiko Santorini

Food: Surprise! Greek Pizza did not come from Greece! Well, wait a second … let’s qualify that. What has been called Greek Pizza originated in Connecticut in the 1950’s. The Greeks, however, have been making unleavened flatbreads topped with oils, herb and spices for centuries, well before the first pizza (so named and topped with tomato sauce) emerged in Naples, Italy. (see The History of Pizza). So, we can say that our Greek Pizza is more closely related to the “pizza” created in 1950’s Connecticut than the flatbreads that began their life in the bakeries of Ancient Greece or among the working class of early 19th century Naples.

Our Greek Pizza starts with a crust made from white whole wheat flour, water, yeast, and salt. A dressing composed of EVO oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and oregano is brushed onto each individual pie (about a tablespoon of dressing for each 8-inch pie). Some grated mozzarella is mixed in with the cooked chopped spinach and seasoned with granulated garlic and nutmeg. Spread onto the crust. Sprinkle generously with crumbled feta and chopped oil-cured olives. Bake at 490F.

Wine:  When one thinks of Greece, the image that often pops up in our imagination is of white .. very white … white-washed, cube-shaped buildings perched atop or clinging precariously to treacherously steep black volcanic cliffs, all set against the almost surreal blue of the Mediterranean Sea. What you have just conjured up is the real-life Santorini, one of Greece’s Cyclades Islands located in the southern Aegean Sea. It is a stunningly gorgeous place (see video) shaped by a long history of volcanic eruptions over thousands of years. It is also home to some REALLY GOOD WINE and a very productive wine industry despite the harsh geologic and climatic conditions in which the grape vines must thrive. Assyrtiko is considered to be the flagship wine of Santorini and, many would claim, Greece’s most iconic wine. We hardily concur.

Tasting Notes:  A deep gold color. The aroma of a very ripe Charante melon. One can practically smell the luscious sweet aroma from across the room! A little bit of spice and honey can be detected, adding a wonderful complexity. The palate reflects and deepens the honey and melon. “… late summer in a glass.” says my wife … she captures it perfectly. She elaborates … ” on the terrace, warm summer sun slanting though the trees … You’ve just eaten buttered corn on the cob, and then eat a very ripe, sun warmed melon served with spiced honey cakes.” I think she liked the wine. I love how a wine can set a scene or tell a story.

The pairing couldn’t be better. The richness of the wine plays well with the salty feta. It should be noted that the wine was not chilled. It just sat out on the counter, unopened, for hours before we drank it. The room temperature warmth let the complexity and subtleties of the wine shine.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Greek Pizza: Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa), Moschofilero (Greece), Viognier (California), Riesling (Alsace)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Assyrtiko:  Oysters, Taziki and Yogurt Based dips, Hummus, Chicken or Seafood Kebabs, Goat Cheese and Feta Cheese

Maps and Photos of the Santorini Wine Region: Santorini

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Penne with Tuna and Tomato … Served with a Sparkling Limoux

Pairing: Penne with Fresh Tuna, Tomato, and Herbs Paired with J. L. Denois Lune Vielle de Mars Limoux

Food: Garganelli con Tonna Fresco is chef Cesare Casella’s wonderfully simple but elegant dish that highlights fresh tuna steak with fresh oregano, parsley, garlic, and tomato all tossed with pasta (we like penne). Lightly brown the garlic and herbs in some olive oil. Toss in a generous cup of halved cherry tomatoes and saute them briefly until the tomatoes just begin to soften. Add 1/2 inch cubes of fresh tuna steak and brown them being careful not to overcook the tuna. Deglaze pan with a splash of white wine. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Toss the cooked pasta in the pan with the tuna, and serve.

We never tire of this dish and have been enjoying it frequently for many years. Serve it with a crusty country bread.

Penne with Tuna, Tomato, Garlic, Oregano, Parsley, and Red Pepper Flakes

Wine: The town of Limoux is located in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region of South West France in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. It is most famous for its sparkling wines; some would say these wines rival the better known sparklers from the Champagne wine region in France … in most every way except price ($15 a bottle is rarely seen in Champagne, but quite common in Limoux). This Blanquette de Limoux is made from a blend of Mauzac, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay grapes. And the sparkling wines produced in the Limoux area use the same methode champagnoise or traditionale process by which vintners in the Champagne region make their sparkling wines.

Tasting Notes: The color of beautiful clean straw. It smells of yeasty biscuits almost ready to come out of the oven. On the palate, “fresh” is the best descriptor. Surprising depth for a sparkler with nice minerality. A delicate hint of honeydew melon, and a light touch of salt. As mentioned, this is one of our favorite meals that we have enjoyed many times, but never with a sparkler … always a still, Italian white wine. In a way, this is something like a sparkling version of a Soave or Grechetto or Verdicchio. All are excellent pairings with this fabulous pasta, but the Limoux bubbles add a special little intangible.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Pasta, Tuna and Tomato: Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), Chardonnay (Italy), Soave Classico (Italy), Chablis (France)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Limoux: Oysters, Sushi, Smoked Salmon, Popcorn, Seared Scallops

Photos and Maps of the Limoux Wine Region:  Limoux

A Source:  www.