If you’re like me, you get excited after a long, cold winter when the temperature begins to climb and the days start to lengthen in anticipation of summer. Along with blooming flowers and bountiful vegetable gardens, summertime provides the perfect backdrop for backyard barbeques and impromptu dinners with friends over a bottle (or two) or good wine.
Although I’d never turn my nose up at a steak or hamburger hot off the grill, my wife and I recently had a few friends over on a whim and wanted to serve something a little lighter. We settled on grilled tiger prawns, marinated for an hour in white wine, olive oil, ginger, garlic, orange zest and soy sauce. Served with grilled asparagus and Portobello mushrooms, the prawns were a perfect way to end the workweek on a warm Friday night.
Now, I’m not one to say you can only drink red wine with red meat and whites with seafood or chicken. I say drink what you like. However, something as delicate as grilled seafood often goes better with a wine that won’t overpower the subtle flavors of the fish. So, while at Costco picking up a few things (bulk packages of 10,000 paper towel rolls), I grabbed two different whites to serve with dinner – a Sauvignon Blanc from Nobilo and a Pinot Grigio by KRIS. Both bottles were less than $10 and given my inexperience with white wine, I figured there was a 50/50 chance of choosing a decent one for dinner.
The 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from Nobilo comes from Marlborough on the south island of New Zealand. It’s 12.5% ABV and has a beautiful pale yellow color. The color is honestly why I chose this wine. When it comes to whites, I’ve found that I enjoy those with deeper color versus wines with very light yellow or greenish tints. The deeper yellow wines seem to have more complexity, perhaps because of time spent aging in barrels versus stainless steel vats. Whatever the reason, this wine didn’t disappoint. In terms of complexity, it initially hits your taste buds with a citrus note, then deepens into a smooth oaky aftertaste. It was a perfect compliment to the mild, buttery prawns and definitely goes on the “summer wines to keep on hand” list.
The 2008 Pinot Grigio from KRIS is from the Delle Venezie region of Italy that surrounds Venice, extending East to the Slovenian border and north into the foothills of the Alps. This wine is 12.5% ABV and has a very slight yellow tint. We probably should have served this one before dinner with appetizers given it’s lighter, more acidic flavor. It would provide a good counterbalance to the salty cured taste of prosciutto or shards of Parmesan cheese. Although I enjoyed it, the flavor never seemed to develop past the first tang of bright, flowery citrus. It did however go well with our dessert of ripe strawberries robed in dark chocolate ganache.Enjoy your summer, Mark D.