As we approach the last sunset of summer where rosé is replaced with big reds, gin and tonics tossed aside for scotch on the rocks, I would like to take the time to reflect on another glorious summer of great food (sometimes), friends and of course wine.
I’d like to know who said you need get in shape for summer? I can get in shape but it only lasts for about two weeks tops. The culprit tends to be my atrocious food choices on the weekends when I’m at parties and barbecues. To think of all the mediocre well-done burgers and grilled hot dogs I’ve consumed, followed by numerous portions of mayonnaise-laced salads. BBQ’s that end with me sprinkling antacid pills on my ice cream and booking an appointment with my cardiologist are never good. Light and fresh is hardly the call of the day for summer BBQ’s.
Of course there were also some stellar meals during my summer sojourn that rose above the quality of my college cafeteria. Namely recipes made by my chef-friend and recipe contributor Dave Repp. But what do we pair with the cornucopia of BBQ foods soaking through our paper plates besides cheap light beer and corona? Ah yes…wine! Rosé, Albarino, Godello, Pinot Gris, Verdejo, Vinho Verde, Gruner Veltliner and Torrantes to name a few. So many great whites to try during the hot summer months. I hope everyone has taken advantage and has tried some of these beautifully floral, refreshing wines. If you’ve had a death grip on your bottle of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio or Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc…I just want to say that it’s ok to let go of those bottles, they will be waiting for you with open corks when you come back from your exploratory tasting of the great—alternative whites of the world.
One of the great joys I have as a wine store owner besides getting to drink wine everyday, is to discover great grapes that are made by small producers that are inexpensive. I have to taste a lot of—let’s just say wines of questionable aromas, flavors and pedigrees—so when I do stumble upon a great wine, and, in this case an adventurous white, I get very excited and I think, “How can I share this with the public?” Oh, yeah…I can do a tasting at the store and share it with my customers.
So here we are at the end of summer. Wear all the white you want for another weekend, press your salmon colored shorts, and shine up that penny for those well broken-in loafers worn without socks all summer and starting to emit questionable odors. Only one more weekend of entertaining the kids 24/7. It’s definitely time to drink some adventurous whites and get your party-on. So where ever you find yourself this weekend make sure to stop in to the local wine shop and ask for the aforementioned grapes.
August is a quiet month so I’d be more than happy to sit down at the wine bar and chat about these adventurous whites from around the world.
Now, as you know it is time for Chef Dave Repp of Splash Restaurant in Westport to unleash his crazy-delicious Labor Day weekend recipe. Don’t miss out on this…just make it!
ALOTE LOCO (crazy corn)
6 local corns on cob
1 squeeze bottle of Sriracha hot sauce (available at all Asian markets)
½ cup fresh parmesan grated
3 limes cut in half
½ cup mayonnaise
Light the grill
Peel the husks on the corn down to the base
Using a clean towel rub off the hairs and pull the husks back up
Soak the corn in cold water for 15 minutes remove and place on the grill
Rotate the corn every few minutes until steamed inside
Hold the corn by the base and remove the husks
Using a pastry brush paint on the mayonnaise
Squeeze the sriracha sauce in squiggly line down the corn in three spots
Sprinkle on the cheese, squeeze the lime all over
SUMMER GAZPACHO WITH SOUR CREAM
2 lbs of ripe tomatoes
½ lbs white bread diced (to thicken the soup)
1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped
1 cucumber, peeled seeded, chopped
1 red onion chopped
¼ cup sherry vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1tbls garlic chopped
1tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup water
Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds
Working in 4 batches place a fourth of all ingredients in a blender and puree
Transfer to a bowl and let sit for 2 hours
Pour the mix through a medium strainer
Add salt and pepper and serve with sour cream and crusty bread
FLANK STEAK WITH CHIMICHURRI RUB AND PARSLEY VINAIGRETTE
1 lbs flank steak trimmed
Mix 2 Tbls of each
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1tbls smoked paprika
1 tsp crushed red pepper
¼ cup olive oil
Mix all the ingredients to form a paste
1/4cup extra virgin olive oil
1tsp garlic minced
1/4 cup Italian parsley
1Tbls onion diced
Juice from 1 lemon
2 Tbls sherry vinegar
Salt pepper to taste
Place parsley and sherry vinegar in a blender and puree
Mix all ingredients and let sit for 1 hour
Take some of the chimichurri paste and rub it all over the flank steak
Grill the steak to the desired temperature and let rest for 5 minutes
Using a sharp knife slice the steak as thin as possible and arrange on a platter
Drizzle with the vinaigrette
Have fun…be safe,
Now that we are knee deep in summer we will all invariably be invited to numerous BBQ’s, If you don’t get invited to any BBQ’s, well this article will still be relevant and useful when you host your solo BBQ and need something refreshing to drink with that lonely hot dog and frozen burger patty. If you have made the choice to not bring beer to your event then I have some interesting white wine choices that don’t involve the words Sauvignon Blanc (SB) and Pinot Grigio (PG). Not that these wines are bad, they most certainly are not, but I feel that they overshadow the array of affordable crisp white wines that exist out there in the world. SB and PG have been on the playing field for too long and need to take a rest. Don’t worry, they will always be there ready in a moments notice. Let’s be adventurous and move to opening our wine options out past the obvious.
Let’s start with the wildly aromatic grape called Godello (godayo). The grape is native to Galicia, Spain and can possess tropical aromas in the nose. It is always fresh on the palate with hints of green apple, and grapefruit, and like most of the wines I will be talking about it finishes with crisp palate cleansing acidity. Who wouldn’t want to drink a wine made with that grape on a hot summer day! Ok, onward and upward.
The next killer summer grape is from Austria…and no it is not sweet, I promise! Gruner Veltliner, this grape varietal is all about pleasure. At the high end it has beaten out top Chardonnays. In the mid-range that I’m talking about it can have an apple scent and spiciness not scene in many simple white wines and it can finish with exotic fruit and dry, crisp acidity. That’s it, I’m pouring a glass of Gruner Veltliner right now…I’m serious. Who cares if it’s Monday afternoon.
Let’s keep going here, no rest for the wicked. The Cortese grape (aka Gavi) is grown in Piedmont, Italy where Barolo and Barbaresco are made. Gavi is a typical Italian white in the sense that is has high acidity along with fairly neutral flavors that don’t get in the way of food but rather refresh and cleanse the palate. Being from Piedmont though does make this grape a few dollars more than the aforementioned grapes. Gavi makes a great alternative to PG.
Here we go, one of my favorite whites is the Albarino grape. Once again this is yet another wine from Galicia, Spain in the northwest. Once again like the Godello from Galicia this grape is wildly aromatic, Albarino can have a nose of pineapple and other tropical fruit. On the palate you can look forward to some lychee, and lemon zest all coming to a crisp crescendo of acidity. If that doesn’t get you excited then you should probably just bring Milwaukee’s Best Light to the next BBQ and call it an early summer.
With all of these great-white alternatives to SB and PG you should have plenty to drink this summer. Step out of your comfort zone, and liven-up your taste buds. Let ten other people bring the Santa Margherita. You can be the one who shows up with wine that will always get you invited back. And if you don’t have any BBQ invites just grab a couple of bottles of the adventurous whites and crash the party, they’ll be glad you came…if only to drink your great wine before they call the police.
As always if you have any questions or gripes, I’m always at my wine store. Don’t forget to try the recipe it goes great with all of the grapes mentioned. Have fun, be safe!
Sweet & Spicy Grilled Shrimp Soft Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa
½ pound Raw cleaned shrimp
Package of soft round tortillas
½ Cup Olive Oil
1 Lime juiced
1 Jalepeno or favorite hot pepper
4 Scallions green part chopped
2-3 Garlic cloves
Pinch or so of Kosher Salt or Sea Salt
Mix in blender, add shrimp to marinade for an hour then skewer and grill shrimp for about 3 minutes or until done. Take shrimp off and chop. Take tortillas and put in tinfoil and put on grill for a few minutes to warm.
1 Mango, ripe & diced
½ Red onion finely diced
½ Red bell pepper, finely diced
1 Tbls Cilantro, chopped
1 Tbls Mint, chopped
1 Lime Juiced
Pinch of Kosher Salt or Sea Salt
Mix together and put in fridge.
When ready to serve put mango in a bowl and shrimp in a bowl. Put out some sour cream and let people make their own soft tacos.