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Try a “blush” wine for summer!

I think many of us can remember when Mateus Rose was hot; I think it was in the 70ís, and then there was the White Zinfandel craze that seems to be hanging on still. Because of great marketing by the early promoters of the white zins, like Sutter Home Winery, people believe that if it is blush, it must be sweet. Not so, and letís digress for a minute to talk about how the ìblushî gets into the wine.

First, white wine can be made from either red or white grapes, but only red wine can be made from red grapes. Color comes from the fermenting juice spending time on their skins. In the case of a blush wine, the juice spends much less time on the skins than the reds do, giving it the beautiful rosÈ color. Next residual sugar plays its role on sweetness. For a detailed description ñ go to Wikipedia for the best definition Iíve seen in a while.

Not all White Zinfandel is sweet and hard to know the difference without tasting. In some cases the label can fill you in, and as I have said before–don’t hesitate to ask the wine merchants for their descriptions.

My point for this particular commentary is to entice you to try blush wines again if you are avoiding them because you think they are all sweet, and to try them for the first time, if you have never tried them before. And with summer right around the corner, a cool crisp pale blush can be a very refreshing choice. Blush wines are suitable for an aperitif or with dinner depending on your choice. I am recommending a few pairings below to get you started – enjoy! Ciao, Bob!

Chateau Lorane Gamay Noir Rose ñ 13.8% alcohol; dry, crisp, flavors of under ripe strawberry and touch of citrus; clean finish; great with shellfish, smoked salmon, creamy cheeses, and roasted pork.

Sokol Blosser Rose of Pinot Noirñ 13.5% alcohol; light aroma of rose petals & strawberries, melon, with minerals undertones and citrus. Long finish and well balanced; great with oily fish such as salmon and tuna ñ especially sushi style with wasabi and soy; creamy cheeses, cream sauces and poultry.

Heitz Cellars Grignolino Rose ñ 12.5% alcohol; cheery blossoms and raspberry overtones; crisp, dry finish; great with ham, cured meats; hard yeasty cheeses; foie gras and other rich style foods.

Tastes of French Bistro

After completing another class from our, ìTastes ofÖî series, I am reminded how many culinary nuances exist from the cuisines making up the Mediterranean. This has been a departure for me since I have always enjoyed mixing up the flavors and pulling what I perceive as the most interesting from each region.

France is considered by most consumers as the birthplace of modern cooking. In truth it is the Italians who amongst chefs, are given credit for sparking the industry we love today. Let me digress a momentÖCaterina de Medici of Florence was wed to King Henry II of France in 1533, bringing along her chefs as well. After entertaining the nobility of France, Caterina would loan her chefs to the various Dukes and Duchessí so that they might reciprocate in style. The face of gastronomy was changed over time and took on a look of its own, utilizing local ingredients and techniques applicable with the French bounty.

This brings us back to Bistro cooking. Our research indicates that bistro style refers to an unpretentious, less formal and quicker dining experience. Quicker is meant in relative terms to the long ìformalî dinners that European meals have been noted for. For us the menu was reminiscent of meals Lenore and I had while in Paris. Our menu follows:

Chicken Liver Mousse Croustade with Aspic GelÈ
Spring Asapargus Spears with Sauce Bearnaise, French bread
Grilled Steak with Pommes Frites, Tossed Greens with Fines Herb
Mussels with Court Bouillion and Garlic Croustade
Lavender Creme Brulee with Orange Shortbread

I have included the mussels recipe for your enjoyment. Bon Appetit! ñ ciao Bob

Mussels with Saffron Court Bouillion and Garlic Croustade
3 cloves garlic, paste
1 leek, minced
1 carrot, minced
1 small jicama, julienne
1 cup tomatoes, diced
1 pinch saffron
‡ cup dry white wine
1 cup reduced fish stock
1 cup ‡ & ‡ cream
3# mussels, cleaned

Method: place oil in large preheated sautÈ pan; add garlic and leek; cook until aromatic; add carrot; cook until tender; add jicama, tomatoes, saffron, wine and stock; bring to a simmer; add cream; adjust seasonings; add mussels; cover and cook 3 ñ 5 minutes or until opened; remove and serve immediately.

Croustade: 12 thick wedges artisan bread, as needed EVOO – Method: place sliced bread on sheet pan and brush with EVOO; season with sea salt, ground coriander and pepper; place in 400†F oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the bread is lightly toasted ñ remove and serve with aioli.

Roasted Garlic Aioli: 4 cloves roasted garlic, 3 RT egg yolks, ‡ cup EVOO, ‡ cup grape seed oil, juice of 1 lemon, TT cayenne pepper ñ Method: mash garlic into a paste; add yolks and whisk well; add oils in a steady stream, whisking constantly; add juice and season with sea salt, cayenne and coriander; reserve chilled.