• Wine is a complicated animal.

    It’s like the motto for the game Othello… ‘A minute to learn, a lifetime to master’

     

     

    Most people just find a grape or two they like and stick with those.

    Others change from one varietal to the next, yet don’t really understand why their tastes change.

    Some people make an effort to pair wine to food hoping to enhance one or the other or both.

    Still others make an effort to actually become one with the wine. They try to let it guide them to a new plateau of enlightenment and begin their lifelong quest of wine guru.

    I recommend attempting a wine enlightenment level of somewhere in between beginner and pro. The beginner doesn’t get the full enjoyment of wine and the professional tends to lose sight of the carefree enjoyment of wine.

    Full on questing is exhausting and can leave one disillusioned. It’ll also often take away some of the pleasure you once received from wine because you’re not stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.

    That said, one of the most amazing things about wine is what happens when you pair it (well) with food.

    Some people have said, just drink what you like it, doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy it. This is true in the sense that you are enjoying yourself. However, you could very easily raise your level of enjoyment tremendously with minimal studies or effort. How you might ask? Let me tell you.

    I would like you to do a pairing test. I’m going to be very specific so that you can remove the accidental error.

    Get a bottle of Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris (same grape) and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Prepare some sort of light seafood – oysters, shrimp or scallops, and also prepare a steak or red meat of some sort.

    Pour yourself some of both wines (in separate glasses) and taste the white with the seafood and then the red with that same seafood (take a bite and then a sip).

    I guarantee that the subtlety of the seafood will disappear with the red wine, but will be enhanced with the white.

    Now try the same with the steak. With steak, the tannins in the red wine will latch on to the proteins in the meat, creating a balance that brings out the flavors of both. With the Pinot Grigio, the wine will taste boring in comparison.

    There are so many ways to pair wine with food, like Lambrusco with salumi, Sauterne with Fois Gras, or Malbec with steak and chimichurri. The pairings can be so intricate as to even rely on the temperature of both the food and the wine.

    That we will save for another day. Today’s experiment is playing at the extremes in order to give you a blatant example of basic food and wine pairing.

    Here are a few lovely examples of wine that you can use for this test..

     

    Two Pinot Gris from Oregon. They’re both under $15.

    2011 Seven Hills Oregon Pinot Gris – $13.99 at K&L

    91 points Wine Enthusiast

    “Editors’ Choice* A glorious, grapefruity, lusciously fresh Pinot Gris, this new vintage from Seven Hills is made for a summer afternoon. This has notes of citrus and melon, with highlights of mint and a hint of pepper, keeping it lively and interesting all through the refreshing finish.”

     2011 Rainstorm Oregon Pinot Gris – $10.99

    90 points Wine Enthusiast

    “This is the first release from Rainstorm, part of the expanding Mariani Family presence in the Pacific Northwest. It’s bone dry, immaculately fresh, and leesaged, with lovely depth and finesse. Flavors of melon and cucumber dominate, and the crisp acidity offers bracing minerality. Best Buy.”

    …and for the Cab portion…

    2011 Montes “Classic” Cabernet Sauvignon – Colchagua Valley, Chile – $9.99 online at K&L

    90 points Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

    “The 2011 Montes Classic Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with 15% Merlot and offers a simple black currant, vanilla and violet bouquet that is joyful and well defined. The palate is medium-bodied with succulent tannin, crisp raspberry and dark cherry fruit, zesty acidity and lovely focus on the finish. At this price, it would be hard to find a better Cabernet. Drink now-2016”

     

     

    Now for some Amazing Mis-Adventures of Ahsan Ali

     

     

    To recap where we left Ahsan..

    Ahsan was hired by a rogue communist party to create a mini-giraffe crocodile hybrid (the communists called a graffoc). He called up his longtime friend and cohort Frank who immediately got him all the equipment needed for the project.

    …and now it begins.

    Ahsan got to work on the project promptly after Frank left. He assembled the machines and got to work on splicing the DNA. Whenever Ahsan played god he tended to laugh a lot. It was always that kind of maniacal mad scientist laugh. He thought it a touch cliche, but he couldn’t help it. The laughs just came out.

    A bunch of giraffe chromosomes, a splash of tiger fish, a helping of crocodile, and a smidgen of jellyfish. He put them all in the DNA mash-up machine and pressed frappe. The machine used ‘fuzzy logic’ enabling it to know what to take and what to leave behind. It was Ahsan’s own design. The read out for the first trial of an accelerated graffoc was 26 hours. It usually took between 20 and 30 failed attempts to get an acceptable product. That put it at around a month of non-stop operation just to get a viable test subject. Damn! Ahsan was anxious before, but now he was down right flummoxed about how he could pull this off.

    Ahsan decided to go for a spin in his new Ferrari while the machine was doing its thing. When he returned 26 hours later, he stepped inside just in time to hear the ‘ding’ of completion. Ahsan opened the machine to find a complete disaster. In fact, it was so poorly put together that he knew this would have to be done by hand. He rolled up his sleeves and got to work.

    Days pass. A knock on the door, and Ahsan opens it to find Frank holding two brown bags. “Spicy andouille with sauerkraut or merguez with mixed peppers?”

    Ahsan immediately contemplated when he last ate. He honestly couldn’t remember. “Um, both.”

    Frank handed him a bag.

    “I said both!” Ahsan was getting food deprivation snippy.

    Frank laughed. “I know.” He said with an easy attitude. “You’ve been locked up in this cave for days so I got you five different sausages and a side of fries. They’re Rosamunde, your favorite.”

    Ahsan would’ve responded, but hunger took over. Raw primal hunger which wasn’t abated until he’d eaten everything.

    “What’s it looking like?” Frank asked once he knew it was safe to proffer questions.

    Ahsan replied with a shrug. “I think I may actually have it. It’s in the incubator. Look for yourself.”

    Frank’s eyes went wide. “It’s only been two weeks!” He nearly shouted as he walked over and saw the beginning of a graffoc. He had thought it would be a repulsive creature, but Ahsan had made a thing of beauty. It shimmered in vicious elegance.”This is amazing! Can you duplicate this? Better yet, have you conceived of a way out of this mess alive?”

    Ahsan merely smiled…

    Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion.