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Friday, May 6, 2011

Warm Weather Wines

Shiraz on the porch

The warm weather is here and it’s my favorite time of year, sipping wine out on the porch or the dock and pairing with fresh local fish and grilled meats.

A favorite summer dish here on Long Island is the lobster roll - a bun filled with a salad of chilled lobster meat.  A small lobster roll appeared on the lobster sampler plate appetizer at my sister’s wedding last year, and for me, the choice was easy.  Stick with Champagne, as the elegant Champagne pairs beautifully with lobster and the crispness of the palate-cleansing bubbles is a refreshing followup to the bun and the mayonnaise. A non-vintage will do quite nicely, such as the Moet & Chandon Imperial, or the Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label.  Both are suave and clean, with white fruit and crisp apple characteristics, a smooth and fine texture with small bubbles, and a lovely finish.  This is a perfectly elegant lunch to enjoy in the warmer months.

Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label

One of the culinary highlights for me each summer are the soft-shell crabs, which I coat with milk and flour and saute, and drizzle with a bit of lemon juice.  The meat is fairly light and to make the dish just a bit more substantial, I like to pair with a good Chardonnay.  A Chardonnay without an over-abundance of oak works best for me, so as not to overpower the crab meat and set the pairing off-balance, so I generally lean toward French.  A good quality Chardonnay at a reasonable price is the Louis Jadot Macon-Villages.  Its classic citrus and white fruit aromas are fragrant enough to stand up to the ambient aromas of the outdoors, and its clean texture and long finish are a perfect match with soft-shell crab.

2009 Louis Jadot Macon-Villages Chardonnay

For grilling meats at home, I’ve been most satisfied when pairing with Australian Shiraz.  The bold fruit flavors and assertive spice and pepper are very accommodating with grilled steak.  A bit on the pricey side for bringing outdoors but, in my opinion, absolutely worth it, is the d’Arenberg Dead Arm Shiraz.  The dark, full-bodied wine amazingly manages to mirror the flavors and aromas of the steak while also approaching it from a perpendicular angle.  The smokiness and peppery characteristics of the Shiraz run with the steak, while its intense fruit and hints of spice are an excellent counterpart to the oils and slight charring of the steak, the texture is very substantial, and the finish is long.  While the wine is a bit expensive, it’s by no means pretentious and is perfect for enjoying outdoors.

2005 d’Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz


  1. All great selections! Due to the warm weather, I am enjoying more Roses. My favorite thus far is Sokol Blosser.

  2. Just read all of your comments, thanks so much for the great feedback! Cheers!