When the weather's too sultry to cook and even the charcoal grill seems daunting, a cool salad will bring your temperature down.
So will our dinner choice last night, a bowl of spaghetti with what the Italians call salsa cruda ("raw sauce"), a cool blend of chopped juicy tomatoes, fresh from the garden, with a handful of finely chopped fresh basil and parsley, minced garlic, a dash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper, topped with crumbles of mild goat cheese (or, if you like, creamy fresh mozzarella).
But can such a light supper stand up to wine?
Well, sure. In the salad department, making dinner meet the wine is generally as simple as adding something more filling than the basic rabbit food. Put on some good tuna, black olives and sliced eggs to fashion a Salade Niçoise, and choose a bone-dry, crisp and herbal Provence rosé as the perfect wine match.
Or top your Caesar salad with grilled chicken, and match it with any crisp, dry white from Sauvignon Blanc to Pinot Grigio. Or a dry, lightly sparkling Italian Prosecco like the "Il" that we featured the other day. Alternatively, you can serve your salad with an American pink wine – even a sweetish White Zinfandel if that suits your tastes, or a dry, Euro-style rosé such as the French-accented Vin Gris de Cigare from Bonny Doon.
One important wine-and-salad-matching tip: Avoid using a tart, vinegary dressing on your dinner salad, as this can "war" with wines. Creamy dressings, or vinaigrettes that rely on a good dose of olive oil and just a dash of lemon juice or mild balsamic, will do the trick.
But back to that salsa cruda: If your dinner has tomatoes in it, you can't go wrong with a Chianti, or just about any dry, fruity and acidic red wine in the Chianti style, based on the Sangiovese grape. It's no coincidence that Italians have been sipping Sangiovese with tomato-based dishes for centuries, as the tart-sweet, snappy flavors of both the wine and the tomato make natural partners.
Try it ... you'll like it.
Danzante 1998 Sangiovese delle Marche ($9.99)
In a widely publicized joint venture, Mondavi of California and Frescobaldi of Tuscany recently joined forces to produce a pricey line of Tuscan wines called Luce and Lucente. While they were at it, they also fashioned this not-so-pricey Sangiovese from the Marches region on the Adriatic coast east of Rome. Made in steel without a whisper of oak, it's dark ruby with reddish-purple highlights in the glass. It offers tart cherries and Sangiovese spice on the nose and palate, with a distant earthy whiff of "barnyard." Fresh fruit makes for easy sipping, while acidity as snappy as a squirt of lemon brings it up to food. There's nothing fancy about it, neither subtle nor complex, but it's a decent, affordable table red. U.S. importer: RM Imports, Napa, Calif. (July 20, 2003)
FOOD MATCH: Sangiovese's snappy fruit makes it a natural partner with tomatoes in any form, from red-sauced pasta to my choice, a simple spaghetti salsa cruda, tossed with fresh raw tomatoes, basil and garlic.
VALUE: Competitive at $10, although a simple, straightforward wine in this style could be an attractive bargain for less.
WHEN TO DRINK: Made for current drinking, but it's not likely to fade over the next year or two.
WEB LINK: The product of a winery joint venture, Danzante has two home pages in English. For the Mondavi version, visit
Wine Lovers' Voting Booth: Will you buy wine on the Internet?
As we reported in the July 9 Wine Advisor, controversy surrounding laws that ban the sale of wine direct to consumers across state lines in many parts of the U.S. came under attack this month, when the U.S. Federal Trade Commission issued a report that sharply criticized the system as antagonistic to business and consumers.
Many Canadian provinces have similar barriers, in contrast with consumers in many states and other countries who parts of the world who enjoy relatively few restrictions on buying wine online.
For this week's Voting Booth, we would like to know what you think about buying wine on the Internet (or by mail order) and why you feel that way, as we ask, "Will you buy wine on the Internet?" To cast your vote, click to
Nat Decants: Drunk on Adjectives
WineLoversPage.com columnist Natalie MacLean reports this week's startling discovery: there are more adjectives for drunkenness than there are Inuit words for snow. And she's not just talking about being intoxicated or inebriated, or even blotto, blasted or bombed. There are well over 3,000 descriptors - just looking at the list, she says, makes her feel tipsy.
From "hammered" and "smashed" to "spifflicated" and, well, "full of loud-mouth soup," Natalie has come up with a bandwagon of terms. For her full glossary and comments, click to http://www.wineloverspage.com/natdecants/drunken.phtml
About sponsorship: How YOU can help
No, we're not asking for donations. Since launching WineLoversPage.com (then the Wine Bargain Page) in 1993 and starting The 30 Second Wine Advisor at the beginning of 1999, I've been committed to providing wine-appreciation information on the Web without any charge to readers ... ever.
But bills do have to be paid, and we've kept this venture afloat for a decade with the help of quality wine-related advertising partners. Using the same simple premise as magazines, newspapers and television programs, advertisers pay us for the privilege of delivering a discreet commercial message to readers like you.
I accept as advertising partners only established wine-and-food-related businesses with a track record of service; businesses like California Wine Club, Chateau Palmer, Domaines Dillon (Chateau Haut-Brion), Brentwood Wine Co., Villa Banfi, Decanter, Wade's Wines, French Wine Explorers, WineCommune, K&L Wines, Garagiste Wines, Avalon Wines, Vinote, the Australian Wine Centre and many other past and present advertising partners from around the world that I have felt comfortable about personally recommending to you.
As we look forward to another 10 years of publication, and more, it's important that this support continue and grow, making it possible for me to support the costs of running WineLoversPage.com and distributing these E-mail publications.
You can help, not with donations but by your word-of-mouth support. If you have connections with wine-related businesses, whether it's as a consumer, employee or executive, I would be in your debt if you'll encourage them to consider joining us as advertising partners and sponsors.
You might point out to them that there is no quicker, better or more efficient way to deliver a wine-related message to wine lovers around the world than WineLoversPage.com. Because we're not encumbered by the costs of producing a print publication or television program, our operating costs are relatively low, and this benefits our advertising partners in the form of rates that the traditional media can't deliver. And because we've been around the Web longer than any other wine publication and enjoy wider readership, we offer a larger audience of readers than any other online wine publication. It's no surprise that advertising partners who've tried the competition tell us that the results - even from the big names in the wine-magazine world - simply don't compare.
If you're in a position to give advertising a try, or if you know someone who might, I'll be happy to provide more information. Please feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index
The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:
Come back to Fiano (July 18, 2003)
Uncapping "the" Prosecco (July 16, 2003)
What's a Guelbenzu? (July 14, 2003)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Jambalaya (July 17, 2003)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Monday, July 21, 2003