A terrific place that makes grape wines is The Terraces at Quarry Vineyards in Napa, just off the Silverado Trail. I had the pleasure of meeting with Ryan Calder on a warm spring day, and we started our tasting with his new Rosé blend. The wine is an ingenious blend of (white) Riesling grapes, early-picked Zinfandel, and saignée of Cabernet Sauvignon. Each component leaves its delicious footprint on the wine. The low-alcohol Zinfandel gives the wine an unmistakable berry quality; the Cabernet imparts a deeper tobacco, earthy quality; and the Riesling contributes the perfect high note of stone fruits like peach and apricot. Light and refreshing, this wine is a great partner for a starter of Watermelon and Red Onion Salad with tangy, spicy Raspberry Dressing.
Cabernet Franc wines can also exhibit berry flavors, but the fruitiness is usually offset with black olives and rich soil. Maybe that sounds odd, but those dark flavors keep wine from tasting like alcoholic Kool-Aid. Bring out red fruit flavors in wine by drizzling grilled chicken with Leslie Stiles' balsamic glaze (Pair Up, Feb 2010 www.LaSommelierre.com). Add mashed potatoes and roasted carrots to the plate and you have a super fast supper that is elegant enough to serve your most discriminating guest.
For dessert, see if you can find wine made from fruits other than grapes. (If you can’t, a ruby port will substitute nicely). I happen to have had the fortune to come across black raspberry fruit wine. Try the recipe for Cayenne Pepper Chocolate Truffles (www.LaSommelierre.com) to nibble on while you sip the super sweet, concentrated raspberry flavor. Both are so intensely flavored, the smallest amount will satisfy your sweet cravings.
So, go on. Pair Up!
Maria Terry is a Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. www.LaSommelierre.com