As I worked my way through these six bottles at home, tasting and enjoying them during family dinners, I struggled to find an idea, a thread, that would tie the sampler together. Regions, grapes, soil types—nothing seemed to fit. What I did have, though, were notes about the wines and the meals they accompanied, and in the end I decided that a snapshot of the wines as I experienced them “in the wild” would be as good a theme as any.
2020 Custoza “Mael” & Tortilla Española Whenever we have potatoes and eggs, I like to make a tortilla española. It’s one of my signature dishes, which my family is sick of because I only have, like, three and I make them all the time. No doubt my version is far from authentic, but it’s flavorful and filling with some green onions on top and a salad on the side. The peach and pear fruit of this perfumed Venetian white go perfectly with the deep savoriness of the omelette.
2018 Vouvray “Les Fondraux” & Thai Takeout Alsatian wines are often touted as great companions for certain Asian dishes, but a good Vouvray works just as well. I love how the nuttiness of the Chenin Blanc complements the earthiness of the eggplant in my favorite green curry from our local Thai joint. Champalou’s Les Fondraux has the crispness to balance unctuous fried starters, the weight to handle the complex flavors of pad thai, and, crucially, the slight sweetness to match the spice.
2019 Bourgueil “Trinch!” & Grilled Cheese Grilled cheese is a classic midweek dinner at my house. It’s easy to whip up and makes everyone happy. I like a light red with grilled cheese, and the Bretons’ lean, earthy Cab Franc is ideal because it cuts through the richness of the grilled cheese and makes the whole meal seem lighter. Throw in a bowl of tomato soup and you’re sitting pretty.
2016 Chianti Classico & Pasta Arrabiata Every week we have “Pasta Thursday!” and there’s always a bottle of Italian red on the table. Balanced and refreshing, Campriano’s Chiantis can handle everything from a hearty bolognese to a simple arrabiata. A big heap of Parmesan brings out the balsamic notes in the wine.
2017 Saint-Chinian Rouge “Clos de la Simonette” & Burgers I’m constantly impressed by how polished Mas Champart reds are, all cool fruit and sleek tannins. They showcase skillful winemaking, especially the Clos de la Simonette, which is mostly Mourvèdre, the unruly red grape of Bandol fame. Paired with burgers classed up with roasted potatoes and green beans, the Simonette matches the layered burger flavors—the richness of the beef, the tartness of the mustard and pickles—with its dark-fruited and herbal complexity.
2018 Saint Joseph Rouge “Vieilles Vignes” & Hanger Steak I like to grill hanger steaks because they’re tender, loaded with flavor, and hard to mess up. My kids enjoy the crunchy end bits, leaving the juiciest cuts for the adults. I adore Syrah with hangers, especially Faury’s old-vine Saint Joseph. It’s a modern classic, with lots of dark blueberry and blackberry fruit, pepper, a faint smokiness, and a mouthwatering finish. In this meal, the wine is the star.
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