Wednesday, March 3, 2010

#45 - Take-Out Tuesday With Two Wines

Lunch and dinner were not made in the Ney household Tuesday.

Lunch at Semiramis on Kedzie, our go-to place for good Lebanese. Always fresh, always delicious, always BYO.

Pairing wine with Lebanese....well...with the spice level...what you end up can go in a ton of directions.

Something bigger may be the traditional way like a shiraz. I've read a mourvèdre with its heft, spice and meatiness may work. But all of that is presupposing that all Lebanese food is bigger itself.

Typically, it's not. In our world, we just bring what we're in the mood for while not putting anything in a box.

With Semiramis, we usually go lighter. Tuesday was a typical food order.

Hummus - our favorite in town
Fattoush - fresh
Falafel - dense and lighter, no char like some in town
Dolmas - tightly wrapped and taste like they were just made
Chicken Chawarma - we were full so we took it home
Lamb, chicken and beef biryani - see chawarma

Our menu shows how difficult a proper pairing would be so we just shoot for down the middle with something that's been sitting around and is intriguing, like a grape from a region not typically grown there.

The 2006 Kris Pinot Nero ($10 Binny's), an Italian pinot noir from the Alto Adige near Venice is the first such offering from this winery while it's only the second time we've had an Italian pinot noir as well. In our limited experience, they seem to be a blend between Old World and New World pinot noir. Typical pinot noir ruby red in the glass with cherry and cinnamon on the nose, it has a sort of light barnyard quality mixed with cherries and raspberries on the palate. Not the leafiness that you get from good New World pinot noir, more like fertilized farmland and an iron element behind the fruit. Medium-bodied and consistent throughout the meal.

Paired well enough with the food, more like an accompaniment than an enhancement of anything but it never went off the rails for the most part. Nice little wine. Nice little meal.

For dinner, the 2004 Chariot Sangiovese ($15 - liquor store on Wilson and Clark) was paired with pizza from my place of employment. It's nice to work at a place where I know that I'll be craving the product until the day I die but it had been awhile since I had a whole pizza.

Mostly, I just want to pass along this quality Californian Sangiovese. Trader Joe's used to carry the great Chariot Gypsy ($12-ish), a blend of cabernet, zinfandel, petite syrah and sangiovese for an entirely reasonable price (right up there with the Trentatre as a Trader Joe's great value).

From the Jim Neal Wine Company, Mr. Neal is pumping out some great everyday wines that are smooth, sufficiently complex, enjoyable to drink alone and work with a ton of mid-week, thrown-together meals. A solid pizza and burger wine that won't disappoint.

This one only slightly had that syrupy taint that comes with a lot of lower-end Californian wines, especially wines that are made from new-ish grapes to California (some low-end Rhône Rangers certainly have it).

Great stuff with the tomato sauce, less so with the bianca con bufala y rucola. Typical sangiovese cherry notes but a very nice spicy complexity and a clean, mid-length finish. A simple wine but a great simple wine. Better than many that are $10-15 more.

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