"By Terry Kirts and Jill A. Ditmire

Editors note: Terry Kirts challenged our wine expert Jill Ditmire to choose wines that complement local dishes.

Food: Basil ginger chicken: I love just how much basil flavor Shanghai Lil can infuse into its basil ginger chicken. But with such intense aroma, what wine would stand up to it and not get lost?

Wine: Gewurztraminer: An off dry (2.00 percent residual sugar or less) bottle of this white grape would offer complementary aromas to the dish with its inviting nose of spice and herbs and silky, fruity flavors of tangerine and apricot. Good acidity and smooth finish will complement the dish, too.

Food: Mussels with Pernod/saffron sauce: The mussels with Pernod and saffron at La Trattoria Regioni have a definite perfume and wonderfully rich sauce. How do you get a wine to go with a flavor like Pernod?

Wine: Carignane/Grenache: These two French grapes both exude aromas of fennel and flavors of soft anise/licorice to match that of the Pernod added to the dish. Saffron is spicy sweet and you’ll notice those qualities in both of these red grapes along with soft red fruit (current, cherry, minerals). Carignane done on its own is a terrific food wine but hard to find. It’s easier to find Grenache alone. Both grapes are used in Rhone blends that usually feature Syrah as the dominant grape along with Mourvedre and Cinsault. Find a blend that has more Grenache than Syrah and that could work, too.

Food: Duck crêpe: The duck crêpes at Brugge Brasserie pack a lot of flavor from a sweet onion confit. Duck is one of those wildcard poultry dishes. What do you recommend?

Wine: Rose of Pinot Noir or dry cherry wine: Pinot Noir is a good match for duck and done in a dry style rose you get those flavors plus a clean mineral-like finish that cuts the fat better than a true Pinot Noir. Cherry and duck is another great match and an off dry or dry cherry wine still has that fruity quality but not the overwhelming sweetness of a sweet cherry wine, and that fruity offering will highlight the confit.

Food: Jaeger Schnitzel: Rustic but sophisticated with a brown sauce with wild mushrooms, as well as sour cream, this (from The Rathskeller) seems to want something more than beer. Any ideas?

Wine: Vouvray or Zinfandel: Vouvray is a white wine made from Chenin Blanc, a delicious grape grown in France that offers aromas and flavors of golden delicious apple, pear, melon and vanilla. It’s elegant yet earthy and would be a nice partner for the dish. Red wine lovers go American with a Zinfandel as it only grows in California. Choose a Sonoma county label which tends to offer more fruit forward varieties so you get the blackberry, blueberry, spice, vanilla and soft white pepper in a silky, full-bodied drink.

Food: Ghormeh sabzi: The ghormeh sabzi at Mediterrano Café is one of the most unusual lamb dishes in town. Lamb wants red, but this has a distinct flavor of dried limes. What won’t overpower that subtle undertone of flavor?

Wine: Viognier or Bandol: The exotic dry white Viognier with aromas and flavors of Asian Five Spice powder, soft citrus and a silky mouth feel would be as exquisite as the dish highlighting the aromas as well as the rich, melt-in-your-mouth feel of the lamb. Want red? Then try a Tavel or Bandol rose from south of France. Blend of Rhone grapes done lightly with great acidity and balance. Or one of the dry pinks in the neighboring article would be delish as well.

Divine pink wine

By Jill A. Ditmire

I uncork the long, lean bottle and pour the liquid into a glass. It shimmers with the color of a polished soft garnet. Pink wine. Must be sweet. Must be White Zinfandel. I check the label. It says Rosato. Made from Sangiovese grapes, the same fruit found in Chianti. Aromas of cherry cheesecake and soft raspberry catch my attention. Must be sweet. I take a sip. Rich, full flavors of tart cherries just picked from the bush, mineral, “wet stones-like” flavors perk my palate and lead to a clean yet soft fruit finish. NOT sweet.

Rosé style wines are among the best-kept secrets in the wine world. Wine lovers in Provence, France, know the luxury of sipping these crisp, fruity, dry pink wines served chilled with seafood, game and fresh cheese.

Domestic producers are quick studies. This is NOT your mother’s White Zinfandel.

Wine: 2005 Rosato, Miner Family Vineyards, Mendocino, Calif.: Scrumptious from the first sniff to the last sip. Made from 100 percent Sangiovese grapes and best served chilled, the flavors are far from numbing. Fresh vibrant nose of Bing cherry, soft violet, give way to silky flavors of cranberry, cherry and a mineral-crisp flavorful finish. Delicious. I highly recommend any wine from the Miner Family — quality and value whether its white, red or pink.

Food: BBQ ribs, chops, shrimp; grilled Italian sausage; pasta with red sauce; Cabot Creamery Garlic Cheddar and warm crusty French bread.

Like pink? Then drink:

Wine: Vin Gris de Cigare, Bonny Doon Vineyard, Santa Cruz, Calif.: Winemaker/owner Randall Graham loves what he does, does it well and does so with humor. This tasty, dry, crisp blend of Rhone grapes both red and white showcases Graham’s skill and daring as he was one of the first in California to grow the rich, fruity, red and white grapes of Southern France. And probably the only winemaker bringing them together in a bottle that offers irresistible flavors and aromas of violets, fresh cherries and softly crushed strawberries that give way to a steely dry, crisp finish. Bargain priced and perfect with anything on the grill in summer or take-out food year round.

Food: Grilled burgers, four-cheese pizza, BBQ ribs, sweet and sour chicken, pad thai.

Wine: 2004 Rose of Merlot, Rutherford Hill, Napa, Calif.: A rose of merlot? Instead of turning up your nose at the thought, stick it in a glass of this earthy-yet-fruity delightful wine. Rutherford Hill specializes in merlot full throttle in bottle so be ready to be amazed with this merlot “lite.” Inviting aromas and flavors of fresh, juicy multi-berry pie (blueberry, cherry, strawberry, blackberry) topped with vanilla bean ice cream. But no sugar headache after as this great value pink finishes crisp and refreshing. Chill it and swill it.  

Food: Perfect aperitif wine with mild cheeses, hummus, baba ghounoush, tiropita. Indian cuisine (especially paneer dishes) and Greek lamb gyros. Bazbeaux Tchoupatoulis pizza.



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