Friday, January 22, 2010

#28 - Two Meals & Three Wines

A little catch-up.

Two midweek meals.

First up was an attempt at a Greek-style wine can chicken with zucchini bread pudding and arugula.

The Greek aspect never really came through but it was the typical delicious wine can chicken with one difference. This time the thigh was the star with the breast coming in second. Juicy, dark and delicious. One of the best thighs I've ever had. Fig, honey and mustard glaze on the chicken led to some great skin.

It's been five days since we ate this meal and I still don't know if I liked the odd concoction that was zucchini bread pudding. I'm vexed! Ate it all but it was a tad weird.

Which led to our vexing wine experience.

The 2008 Babcock Identity Crisis ($20 In Fine Spirits) was our first wine pairing, bought because it sounded so darn interesting. 100% syrah but not a red wine. Not a white either. Not even a rosé. Skins touched the juice a little longer than a typical rosé and the result is a wine with sort of a copper hue. If I drank it blind (and room temperature), I wouldn't have guessed what it was in a 1000 years. Dry with a mixture of something like apricot and pomegranate. A little creamy spice like cinnamon whipped cream. Bit of a short finish but nothing unpleasant. A wee hint of alcohol in a good way. With the food, it was fine enough but nothing spectacular. Wasn't a good pairing but we could have plowed through and been okay with it.

We didn't plow through. Interested in seeing what the hell would go with the tomatoes in the zucchini bread pudding, I cracked one of our favorite bargain wines, the 2006 Domaine Des Tours Vin De Pays Vaucluse ($17 WDC). Bought on a recommendation from the Rhône lovers at WDC, we gave it a whirl with a fig tart a few months ago and were blown away by the pairing. It's still one of the better pairings of food and wine I've ever had.

A little light in the glass with red fruits of cherry and raspberry. Spice and earth serve as the subtle background with a silky medium finish that makes you want so much more. For $17, it's the best bargain Rhône we've ever had and serves, in my view, as the best introduction to Rhône wines out there. Perfect place to start in my experience with southern France.

But the pairing pretty much sucked. I can still taste the zucchini bread pudding with the wine. All gasoline. The wine completely separated into its component parts and the alcohol won the fight. Best with the arugula (actually pretty great) and good enough with the chicken.

So...we had strike two on us and decided to forfeit the rest of the at-bat.

Live and learn.

Dinner #2 came on the heels of a trip to Binny's in Lincoln Park.
The former Sam's has always been a thorn in our sides. For such a huge place, the selection and pricing was always so ungodly awful.

But when Binny's bought Sam's out three months, they were stuck with a ton of stock that come from suppliers that Binny's doesn't deal with or were in the last year of their drinking window.

Result = DEEEEEP discount extravaganza!

Spent $110. Saved $150 on 14 bottles of wine. Nearly all of the 14 bottles were under $10 marked down from $20-30.

It was a great chance to beef up the wine inventory of bottles we don't have to think about before cracking.

Dinner was leftover Spanish-style beef brisket sandwiches on baguette with mayo. A simple meal to clean out the refrigerator using the brisket from dinner a few days ago.

We drank the 2006 Bokisch Graciano ($8 down from $24) bought in the Binny's trip.

I don't want to get too ridiculous about this wine but if it were $6, we'd be buying this by the case. Something about the difference between $6 and $8 that makes me pause (still might buy a few more, though).

Graciano is mostly only grown in Rioja. It's quintessentially Spanish, all dark cherry and a bit of spice with solid structure and a big nose. Low-cost 100% graciano borders on the simple but nonetheless has a place.

I was leery of a California graciano, figuring it was be all big fruit with no complexity, but for $8, why not?

Wouldn't say the Bokisch was complex, but it was balanced and subtle with a nice layering, even some spice with a floral note and maybe some orange peel. Solid fruit with a wild red berry dominating. Never would have thought it was Californian. At the original price of $24, it's an iffy buy, but it drinks like a good Spanish wine priced in the high teens.

And the pairing was surprisingly good. Good, simple, Spanish-style meal with a good, simple Spanish-style wine.

I can still taste it.

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