Let's combine two meals this week that were eaten with three wildly mediocre wines.
Food: Mustard-red wine rubbed hanger steak with onion tart and arugula salad
Good hanger steak with a nice char, something that I thought would help the wine beautifully.
Traditional-style onion tart made with bacon had a good earthy taste and a fluffy crust. In fact, I'm eating the leftovers of it as I write this and it's still good stuff.
Arugula salad drizzled with balsamic and olive oil. Again, good capper.
Should have been a great meal. Both of us, though, thought it missed some brightness.
And some of that could have been mitigated if the wine revealed itself in the same way it did that last time we had it.
Wine: 2005 Colonial Estate GSM Envoy ($20 - Wine Discount Center)
The meal seemed to match well with a Rhône. Originally, we had the new 2007 Chateau Des Tours (brother of the Domaine Des Tours Vin de Pays that we absolutely love and is probably one of the best QPR wines we've ever had - both are wines from the venerable Châteauneuf-du-Pape winery, Château Rayas), but I had a bit of the sniffles so we deferred to an Australian done in the Rhône style.
Last time we had this, it came off much darker and much bigger with herbal, tar and spice elements.
This time, unfortunately, the dark fruits were gone, replaced by exclusively red fruits with some raspberry and cherry, medium-to-short finish, medium tannins, somewhat concentrated but not in the least distinctive.
Had that in-between mouthfeel that good Australian GSMs have, something between the New and the Old World. Not syrupy, more like deep. But everything had a manufactured feel to it and the fruit had an over-extracted sense that showed well two years ago but now is coming off a bit flat.
Just didn't distinguish itself. Would be a decent little table wine under $12 but this one used to sell for $40 once upon a time.
Clunky. Good enough with the hanger steak but didn't enhance anything. Got by on its fading glamour, but didn't deliver the goods.
One bottle left of this. What used to be somewhat held back to match a meal in the very least has become a sandwich wine. If the wine would have stayed in the dark and deep range it showed previously, that could have brought the meal to a different level where the mustard-red wine rub began to pop and the onion tart went deeper.
It's not a bad wine - nothing disjointed. It simply isn't interesting anymore.
But fish tacos is a top 10 meal in our world.
Food: Mahi Mahi tacos with jalapeño sour cream, Mexican slaw, guacamole and hot sauce
Recipe taken directly from here.
Duncan Gott, the brother of winemaker Joel Gott, has a place in Napa that serves up some serious deliciousness.
Spectacular marinade on the Whole Foods mahi, garlic-y with a deep spice. Jalapeño sour cream that I could drink by itself. Easy slaw that adds crunch and depth without getting cabbagey. Insanely fresh guacamole.
It can't be emphasized more, this is great stuff.
We've had it one other time since the beginning of FWW with the ridiculously good purple corn sangria, swapping out mahi for tilapia and altering the slaw.
On that purple corn sangria, there's no better match for these fish tacos. Nothing.
And certainly not these.
Wine: 2003 Prager Riesling Bodenstein Smaragd ($14 - WDC) and 2007 Bokisch Albariño ($4 - Binny's)
I could be fine with the Bokisch albariño. It was $4. Not offensive. Not good, but not offensive. Mrs. Ney found some hard-boiled egg notes, which was worth the $4 by itself for its hilarity.
But the 2003 Prager Bodenstein is done, over, finito. Felt kind of burned by the signage at WDC on this one that said it was still drinking beautifully despite the major critics saying it was done three years ago.
Even the faintest hint of fruit is hanging on for dear life. As it came to near room temperature, I thought I found something that might have resembled orange peel or kumquat.
It's done. I have another bottle. Anybody want it?
Both wines added nothing. But in our world, that didn't matter. Unlike so many other meals that scream for good wine to make it better, nothing was going to detract from the greatness that is fish tacos with this recipe.