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Wine Pairings to Try Tonight
September, 2006 - Issue #23
Compiled by Therese Edwards and photography by Ted Dayton

If you consider wine and food pairing a task reserved for the rich, famous or stuffy, or worse, a skill only worth developing when an upcoming party has you panicked, you're going about this whole wine thing all wrong. Wine is a beverage to be associated with festivity, pleasure and satisfaction - all qualities worthy of more frequent incorporation into your hectic life. Slow down and taste-test these easy pairings to see what you have been missing.

Riesling or Zin with Spicy Thai

"It's fun to play with different foods and wines. Usually, Rieslings are considered a dessert wine, but when paired with great Thai food, the spice cuts the sweetness and the sweetness cuts the spice. Good Rieslings come from the Mosel-Faar-Ruwer region of Germany. We suggest trying the Red Cat Riesling. The bottle alone is awesome - it's shaped like a bright red cat - and it's a killer deal at $15.99. It has a medium sweetness that's not overbearing.

If you love spice, pair your Thai with a big red zinfandel. You'll experience a pepper finish at the back of your tongue and your food will actually taste spicier. Try the Earthquake Zin. At $24.99, it's a very popular choice and has a high alcohol content and a lot of warmth."

Brad Roen, owner of Wine 661 288-2980

Tempranillo with El Cholo Mexican Food

"The Tempranillo brand of wine, imported from Spain, is created with grapes indigenous to the country known for its love of food and drink. A delicious pairing can be made by combining the medium-bodied red, which runs from $6 to $80, with chicken or beef fajitas, carnitas or paella. Unlike the heavy cabs or light pinots, this wine works well with food, with its acidity matching perfectly with these types of selections. The flavor is full of ripe plums, blackberries and cassis berries, and there is a note of warm spices that make for a fine finish. The taste experience can be had in-store or in the comforts of home."

Yoon Lee, partner of All Corked Up 799-7979

Port, Cheese and Chocolate

"Serving port is such an elegant ending to a meal. Port is a velvety sweet wine that may have aromas of pepper, smoke and black currant. Serve it in a small clear dessert wine glass and hold the glass to the light to enjoy the port's deep ruby or rich tawny color. During production of the wine, brandy is added to stop the fermentation. That gives port a complex, fruity taste to savor. What we love about port is that it pairs perfectly with two of our favorite desserts - chocolate and cheese. A tawny port, which has been aged in a cask, is delicious with caramel or with nuts and figs. For pure decadence, decant a 15-year-old vintage port and serve it with dark chocolate truffles or wedges of good Stilton or blue cheese. Whatever port is paired with, we can't think of a better way to finish a meal."

Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier, owners of Vino 100-Valencia
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