Sunday, December 25, 2011

Holiday shopping

Pernil. Feste dei sette pesci. Latkes with applesauce. The winter holidays are inseparable from the foods with which people celebrate them, and MFWC received a number of requests last week for wines to pair with specific celebratory dishes.

MFWC has a weakness for the pernil with rice and beans at Sophie's, a Cuban place around the corner from the office, and he could scarcely refrain from inviting himself for Christmas Eve lunch when a colleague mentioned that she needed a $15 red to go with her grandmother's pernil, pork slow roasted with garlic, pepper, oregano and salt. That called for the Bernabeleva 2010 grenache (or, to use the Spanish, garancha), that Big Green had last week with his Korean barbeque. Big Green recommended letting the wine breathe for a half-hour to let the alcohol settle down. A zinfandel would also work, and those who prefer less fruit might opt for a wine like the red from the south of France that MFWC spied in a Paris wine store, the L'Engoulevent of Yannick Pelletier, a blend of Grenache, Carignan, Syrah and Cinsault. Crush Wines on 59th St. recommended the '06 a few years ago to pair with the insanely good squab served over rice flavored with squab liver and sofrito that Wes Genovart served at Degustation on the Lower East Side. Wes opened up his own place in Vermont earlier this year, and MFWC needs to head up there in 2012.         

The feste dei sette pesci, or feast of the seven fishes, is a southern Italian and Sicilian Christmas Eve tradition that includes some combination of baccala or dried salt cod, mussels, clams, eel, sardines, squid and octopus. One MFWC member - call him Dr. Database - opted for the Ambra Blanco 2010 from Ischia, an island off of Naples. MFWC usually fills requests for pinot grigio with the Ambra Blanco, a blend of Biancolella, a white grape from Campania, and Forastera, which comes from the Canary Islands and was once used to make fortified wines including sherry. Another member lamented his uncles' inability to plan a menu for the sette pesci, a sentiment MFWC shared because of the opportunity for interesting pairings the meal offers. There's the realm of Sicilian whites, of course, and the Forastera points more adventurous drinkers toward sherry. Maybe 2G Sales will try Arianna Occhipinti's whites to see if they're up to the task, since 2G Sales so enjoyed the Occhipinti SP68 Nero d'Avola/Frappato blend. Why not start with some Txakoli, the sparkling white served with mussels, fried octopus and patatas bravas at tapas bars all over Basque country? Clearly, further research on the sette pesci will be required.

The son of an Alabama graduate who sits next to MFWC - call him Bama - couldn't bring himself to serve a dry German with latkes and applesauce at Passover, so he too went for the Ambra Bianco given his wife's preference for pinot grigio. The Bamas welcomed a new baby boy into the family last month, an occasion they marked with a prosecco that would also have gone with the latkes, or they could have lived it up with the Francois Pinon sparkling Vouvray that MWFC discussed in September. Maybe 'Bama can buy a bottle in anticipation of the BCS championship game on Jan. 9, when the Crimson Tide plays LSU.         

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