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In This Issue
 Red wine and fish Returning to a recurring theme, a tasty reminder that the conventional wisdom isn't necessarily so.
 Au Bon Climat 2002 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir "Le Bon Climat" ($17.99)
Big, juicy and ripe, fruit-forward but nicely balanced, a fine Pinot from "Sideways" country with a hint of a mid-Atlantic accent. California Reds Sale through Monday, April 17!
 This week on Principles of matching food and wine; finding value in West Coast Cabernets; and folks on our interactive forums are comparing notes on forming wine clubs and buying Amarone.
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index The Wine Advisor archives.
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Red wine and fish

The old saying about "red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat" is such consistently useful advice that it's sometimes worth a periodic reminder that it isn't always so.

The basic rule is worth remembering, because you just about can't go wrong by ordering Cabernet Sauvignon with a steak or Chardonnay with lobster. Or Chianti with spaghetti and meatballs and Zinfandel - red, of course - with a juicy burger. These are good things to know, particularly for a nervous wine novice wrestling with a restaurant wine list.

But how about chicken, with its light breast meat and dark thighs? Or pork, "the other white meat"? Most of these dishes will go delightfully with red wine or white, and your choice of sauce or side dishes may weigh more heavily in the balance than the meat itself.

The ultimate in-your-face exception to the rule, though - so much so that it was the title of a purportedly cheeky and daring wine-matching book of the '80s - is "Red wine and fish."

If there's any dish that seems obviously made for white wine, it's seafood and fish: Sole, cod, haddock, scrod, scallops, lobster and crab are all delicate, white-fleshed items that you'd expect would lose their identity against the competition of a dark and hearty red wine.

But take a look at a slab of salmon ... or a bluefish fillet, a chunk of mackerel, a slab of tuna, a sack of mussels. That's not white! Darker, stronger-flavored fish can easily stand up to red wine, particularly if you choose a more delicate, fruity and non-tannic red. In the classic pairing, fresh wild salmon goes so well with Pinot Noir that many wine enthusiasts wouldn't consider a white with this noble fish. Well ... an excellent Oregon Pinot Gris, maybe, but still ...

Tip the scales even further, if you will, by looking up French and Italian recipes for white fish poached or braised in red wine, a preparation that demands a glass of red ... perhaps the same wine used in the recipe.

The moral of today's sermon should be obvious: Know the rules, but don't be afraid to break them. It's OK to drink what you like.

Today's featured wine, an excellent Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara - the California wine region that gave Pinot its 15 minutes (and more) of fame in the movie "Sideways" - made a brilliant match with a juicy, literally "beefy" yellowtail tuna steak.

Want more wine talk? Got a question? You're always welcome to join the online conversations in our Netscape WineLovers Community, where you'll find today's column at this link:

For more advanced wine-enthusiast discussions on this or any wine-related subject, you're welcome in our non-commercial WineLovers Discussion Group, where today's article is featured at this link:

To contact me by E-mail, write I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.

Au Bon Climat Au Bon Climat 2002 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir "Le Bon Climat" ($17.99)

This is a very dark garnet wine, clear but not transparent. The aromas define classic Central Coast Pinot Noir, plums, cherries, an unobtrusive dash of warm spice and a hint of "cherry cola." Big, juicy and ripe, fruit-forward but nicely balanced, with pleasant earthy notes that become more evident as the wine opens up in the glass. It's frankly not as "Burgundian" as some of Au Bon Climat's Pinots, but the brown spices and cola character, which can become overbearing in some of the region's Pinots, are held in proportion here as flavor accents. It's an amiable, pleasurable Pinot. (April 7, 2006)

FOOD MATCH: Makes a great "red wine and fish" match with an excellent yellowfin tuna steaks, crusted with black pepper and black mustard seeds, pan-seared meuniere-style and sushi-rare at the center.

VALUE: Not a cheap wine, but a very fine value in the upper teens.

WHEN TO DRINK: Drinking beautifully now and not really meant for long-term aging, but I wouldn't hesitate to hold it for a year or two on the wine rack or several in a temperature-controlled cellar.

Au Bon Climat is finally online, with an easily navigable Website that offers online ordering and a wine-buying club (in states where the law allows).

Look up prices and locate sources for Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir on
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Pacific Estates 2002 Single Vineyard Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon
The aromas of cherry, berry and cassis, and classic varietal notes of cedar and tobacco are joined by black pepper and mint. It's full-bodied with superb structure and intense fruit and cocoa flavors ending on a long, silky note.
Retail $13
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Rosenblum 2003 Gallagher Ranch Black Muscat Dessert Wine (1/2 bottle, 375 ml)
A rare and exotic dessert wine with aromas of mango, ripe cherry, fig, and guava. It was produced from a 73-year-old Black Hamburg grape vineyard in California's Central Valley. Try it over ice cream.
Retail $18
Winebuys Sale Price $11.99

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Villa Mt. Eden 2001 Mead Ranch Grand Reserve Zinfandel
A classy, noteworthy Zin from the historic Mead Ranch, perched high atop Napa's Atlas Peak. The Mead is quite well-balanced with wild berry, fresh earth, hints of raspberry and spice, a nice vanilla-mocha note from the oak, excellent acidity and smooth tannins.
Retail $25
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This week on

Some highlights of recent articles on that I hope you'll enjoy:

Randy's World of Wine: Food-wine matching
Foods and wines are matched in the exact same way as they are tasted: on the palate, where it comes together. In other words, you match wine the same way that you match anything that tastes good ... say, vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup. Columnist Randy Caparoso makes it easy, with these six basic principles of making a match.

QPRwines: West Coast Cabernet
When we compare the 2000, 2001 and 2002 U.S. West Coast Cabernet Sauvignon vintages by score and price, the 2002 vintage has four "Outstanding Values." The 2001 vintage has two and 2000 claims only one. Neil Monnens' QPRwines reports on 956 CalCabs, ranked by price and value.

Hot topics in our WineLovers' Community
Our WineLovers' Discussion Groups are the best places online to ask wine questions and participate in the civil and intelligent discussion of good things to eat and drink. In addition to our WineLovers Community on the Netscape/CompuServe service, we've just revamped our "classic" WineLovers Discussion Group (WLDG), the Internet's original wine forum, a non-commercial venue intended for serious wine conversations that range from apprentice-level to wine professionals. I hope you'll take the time to visit both of our forums today!

What makes for a successful wine club?
Thinking about forming a local wine club for social wine tasting and group wine-education programs? Forum members are comparing tips and advice on what makes a wine club great, and you're welcome to join in with questions ... or to brag about your own.

On the Netscape WineLovers Community, forum participants are comparing notes and exchanging buying tips on Amarone, the great red wine of Northeastern Italy's Valpolicella region.

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:

 Cooked! (April 7, 2006)

 Think pink for spring (April 5, 2006)

 WT101 - Budget Bordeaux (April 3, 2006)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Defending Mario (April 6, 2006)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition, alternate Tuesdays ($24/year)

For all past editions, click here


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Monday, April 10, 2006
Copyright 2006 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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