Friday, September 14, 2007

Don't Wear Whites After Labor Day - Drink Them!

An old custom and rule of etiquette eschewed wearing white after Labor Day. Who knows where it came from, but after the three-day weekend holiday, we are "told" to put away our summer white shoes and other white accessories. And - - if you are a man, you have no business with white shoes and especially a white belt anyways. They should have been tossed a few decades ago with John Travolta and Barry Gibb's disco garments. However, there is one white you can keep out long after Labor Day and that is - - white wine.

In September, the Walla Walla Valley still has some warm summer days and cool nights. Some excellent examples of whites to pair for those late summer harvest meals - Skylite Cellars "Sierra " is a refreshing, crisp and fruit driven blend of 63% Sauvignon Blanc and 37% Pinot Gris. Walla Walla grapes gives this wine floral notes, structure and for food with a spicy kick, it pairs great with a clean finish. I really enjoyed this white blend and paired it with spicy pork verde wrapped in lettuce leaves and wedges of tangy chicken quesadillas with melty and gooey cheese topped with mango salsa.

Ask Lynn Chamberlain of JLC Winery about her Semillon. She is very proud of it and with good reason. It's her new vine estate Semillon and it is another white wine that embraces food. Crisp, clean with floral notes and very lightly oaked so the nuances of the young fruit really came through. I paired it with roasted red bell pepper hummus and a spicy crab dip. This white really stood up to the spiciness of both appetizers.

In the summer months, one of my favorite styles of wine is rose'. And not just any rose'. They must be crisp, dry and still showing the full flavors of the red grape. I tell wine-lovers to drink these wines even up to Thanksgiving. I personally think they pair very well with turkey, cranberries and sweet potatoes. Get beyond the Pinot Noir tradition for Thanksgiving people and go rose'! You know what else I like about these rose'-beauties from the Walla Walla Valley - - very affordable!

Again, Skylite Cellars Rose - 2006 is a blend of 58% Sangiovese and 42% Cabernet Franc. Lots of good fruit going on with layers of berries and tart cranberries. I paired this chilled rose' with a big juicy strawberry dipped in white chocolate. The juiciness of the wine really came out.

JLC Winery also has a Rose, "The Muse" made with Walla Walla Valley grapes. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot brings to this wine cherries and strawberries. I just sipped this without a bite of food and I sipped and sipped. So good. Lynn suggests a range of foods from the spicy to sea food and absolutely suggests it with the Thanksgiving bird.

This week I wanted a good ol' home cooked meal and someone else to do the dishes. The Whoopemup Hollow Cafe was the answer. When I heard the special for the evening, I bit. They had me. I mean, how can one overlook a special of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, biscuits and huckleberry gravy? Okay, so I didn't need that heavy food but I had to try this huckleberry gravy. Yes - - it was wonderful. But since it was still warm outside, in the low 80's, with rich food, a full bodied red wine was not appealing for me, so Waterbrook's Sangiovese Rose - 2006 was a great choice for me. 100% Sangiovese that offered a summer berry salad in the nose and it continued in the taste. Lots of berries, crisp and with a bright ruby red grapefruit finish. But most of all it finished clean.

So, if you've put away your summer whites and not quite ready for winter, you can keep the summer alive in your wine glass by looking for ways to pair whites and roses' with food or just for leisurely sipping. Cheers!

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