I had a couple of bottles in mind when I left for the airport. (It happened to be the day that my wonderful daughter Siri was arriving from New York. She brought sunshine in more ways than one, btw, and the weather has been gorgeous ever since!)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Right near SFO, there’s a branch of 99 Ranch Market, a huge pan-Asian grocery with unbeatable variety and prices. Siri and I have a tradition of stopping there on our way home, to pick up the fixings for at least a couple of meals.
We kept it simple this time: some fresh hamachi (yellowtail) and salmon sashimi; two jars of oysters; and a whole roast duck, hacked to pieces with a monster cleaver while we watched.
I asked for extra juice from inside the bird, which would later become a no-fuss pasta sauce. (Just scroll down for some pix of the resulting dinner.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~As for the wine and winemakers: Through the years, I’ve had the honor of building friendships with a great many women in the wine world. (In fact, at the Pinot Noir Summit tomorrow, I’ll be serving on the Women In Wine panel alongside three female winemakers.)
Though I know I’ll be leaving many out (there are now *hundreds* of women making wine, yet they comprise only 10% of the profession’s total), I’ll introduce you to some of the best-known among the veterans (many of whom have 30 to 40 or more years of experience), plus some talented young up-and-comers…Milla Handley, owner/ founder of Handley Cellars (see above), established one of the first wineries in the Anderson Valley of Mendocino. (Check out my roast duck for one of her big Zins.)
Carol Shelton, owner/ founder of Carol Shelton Wines, is widely hailed as “the most awarded winemaker in America.”
Gina Gallo of Gallo Family Vineyards heads the Drinks Business Magazine’s list of Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Wine. Phyllis Zouzounis, who co-owns Deux Amis Winery, makes wine there and at several other Sonoma wineries, including Raymond Burr.
Eileen Crane, winemaker and president of Domaine Carneros, was called “Napa’s most powerful woman” by Forbes Magazine. Merry Edwards won a “Best Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional” James Beard award.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Shauna Rosenblum, co-owner/winemaker of Rock Wall Wine Company (see yesterday’s post), scored Best in Show at last year’s International Women’s Wine Competition.
Julie Williams. Zelma Long. Helen Turley. Heidi Barrett. The list goes on and on…
Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten about my Chinese roast duck!I’d recently enjoyed both of the wines I’d planned to sample with it. The first of these was the same ’07 Zinfandel from Milla Handley’s Handley Cellars in Mendocino that I described to you last month.
The Sangiovese came from Villa Ragazzi in Napa Valley. It’s the family “microwinery” of Michaela Rodeno (the long-time CEO of St. Supery Winery), her husband Gregory, and their young-adult offspring. (“Ragazzi” means children in Italian.)Well. Good thing I wasn’t trying to match food and wine by where they come from. (That would be a “Geography” pairing in “Rosina’s 5 Non-Rules”)
First of all, the food was Chinese ~ a culture having little or no wine in its ancient traditions. Sangiovese is Italian (it’s the main grape of Chianti), and Zinfandel, although it’s considered “the quintessential California grape,” actually hails, according to genetic evidence, from Croatia.
But both of the wines worked really well. Since I’d cooked up a simple batch of pasta to toss with the duck and its juice, I could play with the flavors a bit. The key to it all was the pasta itself.
On its own, the duck was pretty intense, and it paired better with the big, rich, spicy Zin. But when we “diluted” the flavors with the bland “blank canvas” of pasta, we preferred the duck with the lighter-bodied Sangiovese.
Pretty cool, don’t you think?
So, the next time someone tells you you *have to* serve *only* Wine A with Food B, or Food X with Wine Y, just let them know there are lots more possibilities to explore. And playing with the pairings ~ a bite here, a sip there, until it’s just the way you like it ~ is the most fun of all.
Enjoy exploring, my friends ~ and please let us know about tasty food-and-wine combos you discover along the way!
Until our next tasting adventure,
Cheers and warmest wishes,