A week ago we wrote about "wine with pizza" and I'm not so sure we covered that subject adequately. Sure, Italian red wine is a no-brainer but my not-so-serious suggestion of any white from the refrigerator actually has much more truth to it than you might think. Spicy foods, at least those that aren't too red meat-centered, do seem to work better with whites than most reds and keep in mind that as a wineblog, beer is off the table here.
So these are the whites I would turn to for spicy foods: Gewurztraminer (naturally), Riesling, Viognier, Vouvray (Chenin Blanc), Tokay and Torrontes. These would also be my choices for Thanksgiving Day dinner too...but I digress. Because Riesling and Gewurztraminer have been so maligned in the marketplace because of inferior representation on the retail shelves and less than tangible issues with varietal characteristics, I lean toward the other types above, all of which are capable of holding their own with, shall we say, some of the more assertive flavors on the table. Lighter examples of these types simply need not apply here.
This leads me to Albarino, another varietal type that I would not consider except that I recently tasted Tangent from California and, as God is my witness, it was better than the Spanish, at least in the context we are discussing here. It is a forthright, masculine (for type), structured white with clean and lively acid and concentrated aromatics and flavors. I have nothing against Spanish Albarino, honest, it's just that it always struck me as being floral and restricted to the lightest of food pairings. Tangent displays phenolic ripeness in the nose and varietal intensity in the mouth. Since I have always deferred to the European oenological example in the past, this is indeed a new development for me.
So what makes the stuff so good? It's always terroir, right? In Edna Valley, California, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the temperature is as cool as Napa/Sonoma with alluvial soils containing the trappings of a cryptozoic pre-history under the seas. First planted two hundred years ago by Spanish monks (Isn't it always the monks?), these vineyards, four and a half miles from the coast, contain soils of dark humus, loam, and clay with embedded ancient marine sedimentary materials. Albarino is called "Vino del Mar" or wine of the sea and Edna Valley's Tangent gives that moniker new meaning.
Here is the newest Vine & Cheese wine tasting schedule:
Friday Oct 19th: Henry Leung, "the man who solved the Chinese puzzle" according to the Wine Spectator magazine, with his own assortment of superior European and California reds and whites.
Thursday Oct 25th: Gail Avera, "the woman who solved the Gwinnett County puzzle" according to the Vine & Cheese blog, with French and Chilean reds and whites.
Friday Oct 26th: Tommy Basham: "the man who started the Chattanooga crime wave" according to the Chattanooga Police Department Most Wanted List, with, oh, I don't even know.
BTW: Our first drop shipment of specially priced St. Supery wines arrives on Friday.