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Food Fits for Solano Wines

Brought up Catholic, I'm no stranger to free floating guilt about EVERYTHING. Starting a blog and then signing on to work 6 days a week doing OTHER things is a sure way to neglect the blog and serve up that familiar feeling of free ranging guilt. Here's one thing I accomplished while not blogging, a little article for SolanoFit about Solano wine and the food that makes it sing.

In 1991 wine sales shot up 44 percent after a 60 Minutes story about the “French Paradox,” the suggestion that despite a diet loaded with saturated fat, the French escaped heart disease and obesity by drinking wine, lots of it.

Wine as health food?  French paradox aside, the most healthful aspect of wine may be that it encourages us to slow down, gather family and friends and cook real food. A little vino while we cook inspires us to get out the pots and pans and leave the takeout menus in the drawer.

Don’t let anyone tell you that your favorite wine doesn’t “go” with your favorite food - if you love them then that’s a good match. However, a few tips can go a long way in helping you cut through the overwhelming variety of choices.

1. Balance the flavor intensity of the food with the intensity of the wine. A delicate sole works with a bright Sauvignon Blanc like Rick Lanza’s at Wooden Valley Winery but a stifado stew needs a wine with some backbone to stand up to its meat and spice.  Rock Creek Vineyard’s Zinfandel is a good, gutsy choice.

2. Look for flavor notes in the wine that echo those of the food. A creamy Chardonnay will bring out the clean flavors of cracked crab with lemon and drawn butter. Winterhawk Chardonnay, with its hint of late summer pears is the perfect mate for a shellfish splurge.

4. Robust meats like lamb and beef love the chewy tannins in wines like the Petite Sirahs grown in Suisun Valley. You’ll say “P.S. I love you” to a Mangels Petite Sirah paired with grilled steak over romaine and radishes.

3. Spicy and fragrant, Asian food needs something fruity and slightly sweet in a wine to make it sing. The heat in a Thai seafood salad with red peppers, basil and mint pairs well with the honey and peach in the King Andrews Albarino.

5. Finish a delicious meal with some sliced fruit, a gooey cheese and a small glass of dessert wine. The folks at Sunset Cellars leave the grapes on the vine till they’re shriveled and sweet for a spicy explosion of late harvest Barbera. If port is your game, try Wooden Valley’s Zinfandel luscious port.

Trust your mouth, it’s your key to good tastes and good times. However your wine and food is paired, one thing is for sure, they taste best when shared.

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