Spring is here and backyards are calling our names, beckoning us to reemerge and tiptoe into entertaining. As we dust off our grills and favorite cookbooks, it’s a great time to take a fresh look at the vintages and varietals we are serving with our favorite fired-up foods. And whether we’re sopping sauce on meat for a backyard barbecue or slicing medium-well steak for a sit-down dinner-for-two, conversation is vital. Knowing a little bit about the wine you’re pouring is a great starting point — and it makes you sound like an expert, to boot.
Christina Quick, wine director at Fairhope’s gourmet retailer Provision, is eager to help get our entertaining legs back under us, so to speak. The following are five must-try wines to pair with a variety of proteins.
Grilled Steak or Pasta with Meat Sauce
Wine to try: 2017 Appellation Cabernet Sauvignon, Upper Galilee, $21
Tasting Notes: Full-bodied, dark red fruit wine with a complex and long finish
The historic Carmel Winery was founded by the owner of the world-famous Chateau Lafite Winery in Bordeaux, Baron Edmond de Rothschild. He and his team investigated the Israeli landscape and saw that its land was much like that of Bordeaux. Today, Carmel Winery is the largest winery in Israel and continues to produce rich
and historic wines.
Grilled Chicken and Vegetables
Wine to try: 2019 COS Nero Di Lupo, Sicily, $26
Tasting Notes: Surprisingly complex medium-bodied wine with red fruits, herbal notes and a hint of saline to close out the elegant finish
Made entirely of Nero D’Avola grapes, the most popular red grape grown on the volcanic island of Sicily, this wine boasts a fragrant aroma, thanks in part to the rich, dark soil in which the grapes are grown. Located off the toe of Italy, Sicily has a long history of winemaking, dating back to the 8th century B.C., when the Greeks first planted grapes. Since wine producer COS’ inception in 1980, no synthetic or chemical additives have been used.
Grilled Fish or Sushi
Wine to try: 2019 Leeuwin Siblings Sauvignon Blanc, Margaret River, $21
Tasting Notes: Medium to high acidity, grassy and citrus notes with a medium mouthfeel (texture)
Margaret River in Australia has a storied history that is directly tied to California and the “Judgment of Paris” tasting in 1976. Robert Mondavi, led by the newfound global understanding that great wine can be made in places other than France, decided to travel to the Margaret River region to meet with the owner of prime real estate, Denis Horgan, in the Western Australia peninsula. He and Denis founded Leeuwin Estate Winery and the rest is history.
Wine to try: 2015 Domaine de Crampilh – Cuvee Madiran Tannat, Madiran, $21
Tasting Notes: Full-bodied and inky red wine with notes of smoky ripe red and black fruits, leather and baking spices on the finish
Before Tannat was known as the star grape of Uruguay, its home and birthplace was in the quaint Madiran region of France. This wine comes from 30-plus-year-old vines in this historic region. Tannat has been touted as one of the “healthiest” red wine grapes, thanks to much higher levels of antioxidants. Le Crampilh is the name of the estate, which dates from the late 1800s, located on top of a hill by the Larcis River in Aurions.
Wine to try: 2019 Domaine Des Cadastres Picpoul De Pinet, Languedoc, $18
Tasting Notes: Clean and crisp with floral and citrus notes, high acidity and balanced finish
This unique wine made from the Picpoul grape is one of the oldest indigenous grape varieties from the Languedoc region in southern France. Picpoul literally translates to “stings the lip” and is a reference to the grape’s mouthwateringly high acidity. Languedoc-Roussillon is one of the oldest wine producing regions in France, dating back at least 6000 B.C.
Provision offers an exclusive club for vino aficionados. “I love to help people try new things,” Quick says of the joy she gets from taking members on a “new journey” with nontraditional wines. Three levels of membership are available, from $35 to $150 a month.