This wine caught my eye as it sat on the supermarket shelf because the unusual label stood out from the other wines surrounding it. The front of the label gave no clue as to what was in the bottle apart from white wine from California but on the back, I was amazed to read that the wine was produced from seven grape varieties. Even more astonishing was the fact that the label gave an actual meal recommendation rather than what is usually on a wine label such as ‘drink with red meat or fish or chicken’. I bought the wine with the intention of creating the wine and food match suggested on the label.
The seven grapes in this Californian white wine were: chardonnay, viognier, picpoul, roussanne, muscat, grenache blanc and marsanne. Quite a combination. I marvelled at the skill needed by the wine maker to create a balanced and consistent wine with seven grape varieties.
Six of the seven grape varieties produce food friendly wines. Picpoul (translated means ‘Lip stinger’) has a high level of acidity so is not as food friendly as the other grape varieties but with six food friendly grapes many dishes would match beautifully with this wine. The collection of grapes, again apart from Picpoul, are aromatic and so when assessing the wine it is best not to do so straight from the fridge as the cool temperature prohibits the aromas and flavours coming to the fore. I would recommend that the wine is chilled for about 30 minutes before serving and aim to serve it at approximately 13°C.
In the glass, Central Valley California white wine was bright gold. The nose was citrus with a hint of tropical fruit, notably pineapple, quite a harsh nose. At 13.5% alcohol volume, it had pleasing viscosity as the legs clung to the side of the glass and descended slowly. The roussanne grape adds texture and weight to a blend and is most likely responsible for the viscosity of this wine. Initially, on the palate, tropical notes were prominent that were unmistakably chardonnay then there was a sweetness from the viogner and rousaanne grapes. On a second tasting citrus came through much stronger than tropical notes and the oil and weight was apparent too, but the sweetness was too much for my palate and so, for me, this wine would not be suitable as an aperitif without food.
Before serving Central Valley California white wine with the main course, I decided to exploit the sweetness of it by pairing it with fresh carrots and hummus. Carrots are notoriously difficult to match with wine because they are sweet, but they matched perfectly. It also matched perfectly with sweet chili crisps. The sweetness of the wine cooled the heat of the chili. These foods rendered the wine smooth and aromatic.
The food recommendation on the wine label was linguine, courgette and goat’s cheese and I served Central Valley California white wine with a variation on this: tagliatelle, pan fried courgettes and sweet cherry tomatoes, topped with goat’s cheese and garlic panini on the side. The home grown courgettes were stir-fried with roasted garlic (roasted garlic gives a gentler garlic flavour to the dish). When the courgettes were a good colour the tomatoes were tossed into the pan with a half teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to soften them and to get the whole pan sizzling. The vegetables were piled onto the steaming tagliatelle and goat’s cheese was placed in small clumps on top.The panini which was smeared in garlic butter and roasted in the oven was served on the side. The sweetness of the home grown cherry tomatoes, along with the courgettes, was an absolute winner as they were beautifully sweet and full of flavour.
All the ingredients were perfect with the wine and after the meal the wine continued to be delicious.
The next day the wine was more balanced and harmonious without food and perfect for a small lunch time glass of wine while preparing lunch.
The reason why I began to write my blog about food and wine was because wine companies are so poor at advising customers about food matches for their wine. Well done to Sainsbury’s or whoever decided to add enough details so that a cook can conjure up a perfect wine and food match for this wine.
I purchased Taste the Difference, Central Valley California White Wine 2018 from Sainsbury’s. it cost £10.
Follow me on Twitter @wonderofwine Facebook and Instagram. Read my column on the first Saturday of each month in the Taste section of The Bournemouth Echo.