Shake Up Your Wine Pairing
This month’s featured recipe is one that would match well with a very broad array of wines, both white and red. The richness of the spaghetti squash and nuttiness of the brown butter combined with the herbal character of the sage cries out for a wine with a good acid profile to counterbalance the dish.
A Sauvignon Blanc or even one of the non malo-lactic fermentation Chardonnays would be a good white wine match, while most red wines have the acidity to play well with the dish.
Personally, the first wine varietal that I thought of was a rich and aged Pinot Noir. This is an example where the perfection of a perfectly made, simple Italian dish, focused on the best ingredients, matches fantastically with the complexities and depth of a properly-stored, aged Pinot Noir from a great vineyard and vintage. As an example, a 2003 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, stored in cellar conditions.
As fellow wine enthusiasts, you may be concerned about the effects of the recent Napa earthquake on the many wines that come out of that region. The 6.0 earthquake was centered in south Napa and occurred at 3:20 a.m. on August 24th. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has reported that the quake moved one side of the West Napa fault line 18 inches north. I’m not a geologist, but that seems like a pretty big shift.
Friends in St. Helena, near the center of Napa Valley, told me that it was so powerful that it sloshed the water out of their pool about 50 feet to flood into their doorway. The wineries that seemed to suffer the most damage were those that stacked barrels six or more high in their barrel storage rooms. Most of these stacks are done with racks that only tie two barrels together and soar 20 feet or taller. Most people would probably be amazed, though, at how resilient a full barrel of wine is. Many of the barrels that fell simply bounced and created a huge tangled mess.
Damage is still being estimated, but some reports have said it could be as high as $1 billion. The good news for lovers of fine wine is most of the wine that was lost was from the 2013 vintage, one of the biggest harvests in history; second only to the 2012 vintage. Since there was so much wine in the first place, most wineries are not likely to make price increases that they tie to the losses of the earthquake.
In terms of timing, it was very fortunate, too. Most wineries had sent the majority of workers home as the Sauvignon Blanc from 2014 was already fermenting in tanks and the Chardonnay and most red wines are still a few weeks away from being picked. The only real harvest crisis was a few wineries that had white wine in tanks and no back up generators. While the electricity was out, the wineries can’t run the glycol chillers that they use to control the temperature in the fermentation tanks. By evening, though, almost the entire valley had their electricity back on.
The one message that all of Napa Valley wants to get out, though, is that they are open for business. The area has gone back and forth with Disneyland as the most visited place in the state and many businesses rely heavily upon those tourists.
Harvest is usually one of the busiest times for tourist activity as all the hustle and bustle going on in the wineries is very interesting to lovers of the grape. If you already had plans, don’t worry about changing them. But, if not, you might look into it as there could be unprecedented deals to be had, due to the cancellations of people who were either uninformed as to the extent of the damage or have a great fear of earthquakes.
Over the years I have informed readers of the myriad health benefits from responsible consumption of wine, especially red wine. So, I was excited by recent headlines: “Could Red Wine Be Used To Prevent Cavities” and “Red Wine May Have Cavity Fighting Powers.”
Unfortunately, this is not a time that I am going to jump on the bandwagon and report that red wine will be your dental panacea. The ADA (American Dental Association) had a nice follow-up article to these claims making the following rebuttals. Responding to the claim that red wine could prevent cavities, the ADA noted that while red wine was shown to inhibit the growth of five oral pathogens, it actually had no effect on the bacteria specifically associated with cavities, S. mutans.
The original research also reported that red wine inhibited the growth of some pathogens associated with periodontal disease. Here again, the ADA notes that you would have to follow the experimental conditions that the research was conducted under. Just hold the red wine in your mouth for two minutes, every seven hours for seven days in a row. But, even if you consider following this regime, the ADA points out that, while it inhibits the growth of two strains of pathogen, that could very well result in promoting the conditions for others to thrive.
Wine has many health benefits, but your dental health should still follow the recommendations of your dentist.