Vin Connections Wines for Seafood (June 2004)

IN THIS ISSUE

“Only drink white wine with fish!?” Uh, no. We don’t think so. In our opinion these kinds of “rules” can do more harm than good, especially when it comes to expanding your tasting experience and drinking more great wines. That’s why we’re backing up our opinion in this issue, giving you a wide selection of all “A” rated whites and reds to go with your summer seafood dishes.

It’s summertime; the ideal season for seafood dishes enjoyed with the wines that help them taste their best. The fact is, there are so many kinds of seafood to try and many more ways to prepare them. So when choosing wines to pair with the dishes you enjoy, the choices are myriad. In fact, choosing great wine for any fish recipe is no different than choosing wine for any food type, cooking style or occasion.

That’s because when it comes to wine choices there’s no hard and fast “rule” for pairing food and wine. I’ve had some very memorable meals drinking Pinot Noir and even Cabernet with the right fish. Sure, there are some guidelines that can help you find wines that will fit a particular dish better than others, and I’ll share a couple below. But at the end of the day (or the meal!) it’s really all about what tastes good to you.

This Month’s Reader Question:
“Do I have to drink only white wine with fish?”

June Wine Picks: The Straight “A” Issue — 20 “A” Rated Wines Perfect for Seafood:
Straight “A” Sauvignon/Fumé Blanc
Straight “A” Pinot Noir
Straight “A” Chardonnay
Straight “A” Syrah

This Month’s Quote:
Finally THE definition of good wine….


THIS MONTH’S READER QUESTION

Summer’s the Season for Seafood. . . and the (“A” rated) Wines that go With it.

“I love to cook, and am a big seafood fan particularly during the summertime. My mom always told me if I cook fish, white wine is what I need to drink with it. Do I have to drink only white wine with fish?”

—Sherry Milton-Edwards, Phoenix, Arizona

The short answer is no — you can drink whatever you want with whatever you want. I know it’s tough to break with family tradition, but there’s no time like the present. I’m not saying your mom is totally off base — many seafood dishes are “lighter”, and, when simply prepared with a little lemon and butter, a big cab would blow it away.

But there are so many different kinds of fish and ways to prepare fish that any “up front” limitation you put on the wine choice to go with it could really short change your experience – after all, fish is only one component of the dish. Though medium-weight whites are a safe bet with almost any seafood, most wines – red and white – can hold their own next to all but the most intensely flavored fish. Since you’re a cook, you know that creating great dishes is a complex process, and the flavors and textures are easily altered. So match your wine to the dominant textures and flavors in your food. A delicate seafood dish (like raw oysters) begs for a lighter wine; a Syrah would wipe out the delicate taste of the oysters. But put that same wine with spicy shrimp scampi, and you won’t even taste it. And that same Syrah will shine.

So if you’re going to follow any general rule of thumb, it’s this: the flavor of the wine shouldn’t prevail over the food, and the food shouldn’t be stronger than the wine.

That’s why in this issue of VinConnections, we’ll point you to some Sauvignon and Fumé Blanc’s to enjoy with your bi-valves, along with make-your-mouth-water chardonnay. And we’ll share some reds you’re likely to love with salmon or sea bass, or whatever other seafood creature you most enjoy baked, fried, barbecued or broiled. So drink, and enjoy…

[Do you have a wine-related question you’d like to ask? If so, contact us and you may see it answered in an upcoming issue!]


VINCONNECTIONS JUNE WINE PICKS

What’s in a score? At the Wine PocketList, we utilize a grading system that most people intuitively grasp. Letter grades. After all, which of us doesn’t understand that an A+ is the best you can get? Or that a C is mediocre? In this issue, we’ve picked only “A” rated wines to shine with your summer seafood dishes. Representing (on average) about 20% of the wines in the Wine PocketList database, an “A” rated wine is exceptional; it should knock your socks off, and is highly recommended with fabulous taste, finish and body.

Straight “A” Sauvignon/Fumй Blanc

2003, Warwick, Professor Black, Simonsberg
Stellenbosch , South Africa
IE: A$16, Grade A
2002, McCashins
Nelson, New Zealand
IE: A$17, Grade A
2002, Rochioli, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County
Sonoma County, California
IE: A$24, Grade A
2002, Frog’s Leap, Rutherford, Napa Valley
Napa County, California
IE: A$17, Grade A
2002, Highfield
Marlborough, New Zealand
IE: A$18, Grade A

Straight “A” Pinot Noir

2001, Sebastiani, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County
Sonoma Coast, California
IE: B+, A, B+. A$15, Grade A
WPL: BBC
2001, Rutz, Sonoma Coast
Sonoma Coast, California
IE: A$18, Grade A
2001, Bergstrom, Willamette Valley
Willamette Valley, Oregon
IE: A-, A$18, Grade A
WPL: BBC
2001, Sebastiani, Appellation Selection, Russian River Valley
Sonoma County, California
IE: A$22, Grade A
2001, Melville, Estate, Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County
Santa Barbara County, California
IE: A, B+, A+$25, Grade A
WPL: BBC

Straight “A” Chardonnay

2001, Mount Eden, West Slope, Edna Ranch, Edna Valley
San Luis Obispo County, California
IE: A$12, Grade A
2002, Rosemount, Hill of Gold, Mudgee
New South Wales, Australia
IE: A$13, Grade A
2001, Navarro, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County
Mendocino County, California
IE: A$18, Grade A
2001, Hess Collection, Napa Valley
Napa Valley, California
IE: A$19, Grade A
2001, Merryvale, Starmont, Napa Valley
Napa Valley, California
IE: A$19, Grade A

Straight “A” Syrah

2001, Scott Harvey, Mountain Selection, Sierra Foothills
Sierra Foothills, California
IE: A$12, Grade A
2002, Barnard Griffin, Columbia Valley
Columbia Valley, Washignton
IE: A$14, Grade A
2002, Rosemount, Hill of Gold, Mudgee
Western Cape, South Africa
IE: A$17, Grade A
2002, Goat-Roti
Western Cape, South Africa
IE: A$18, Grade A
2002, Clonakilla, Hilltops
New South Wales, Australia
IE: A$19, Grade A

Wine Quote

Finally. The definitive definition of good wine….

“The only good wine is the one you like”

— Lois Stansberry, St. Supery Vineyards


DEFINITIONS AND GLOSSARY


Understanding our System

Grade: [A-]
Our grades represent a composite score developed using our proprietary system to blend wine quality and scoring information.

Vintage: 1999
This describes both the year of the actual grape harvest as well as the year the wine was made.

Price: $12
The prices quoted in the WPL are the “suggested retail prices” quoted by the wineries and the distributors. Though these are close to what you’d pay at the winery, you’ll often find discounts of 20% and more off these prices at retail.

Individual Evaluations: IE: A, A-, B+
This represents the number of individual reviews and ratings on which the composite grade is based, primarily representing individual reviews in top wine periodicals converted to our scale, and ratings by our tasting panel.

Wine PocketList Exclusive Categories: WPL: BBC, W, S, B
These are four exclusive WPL categories, and many wines rated by the PocketList will fall into one of these special designations.

[W] Widely Available:
These wines typically have bottling of 20,000 cases or more, making them widely available in most regions of the U.S.

[BBC] Top Buy-by-the-Case:
Based on multiple, outstanding reviews and a solid history, these are wines you can purchase by the case to grow your cellar with confidence today, and into the future!

[B] Bargain Wines:
Top-rated wines for $10 or less. Most of these can go head to head with a typical $30 bottle sporting a fancy label . . . and beat it hands down.

[S] Splurge Wines:
For most of us, spending more than $20 on a bottle of wine isn’t something we do lightly. These are wines that, while more expensive, are well worth the price.

Oksana C
Author: Oksana C

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