We have reached the dog days of summer, that time you wouldn’t wish on a dog. It’s hot. It’s humid. I can’t go from my backdoor to my car without being bitten by a mosquito. The thrill of the grill is gone.
And yet we’re not anywhere near fall. And there is an abundance of corn and tomatoes and squash to be eaten or canned. The bounty of our overly-rained-upon Kentucky is out there. And that trip to the arctic circle doesn’t really seem feasible anyway.
So it’s time to think about what wines to drink in this weather and what foods from the garden to go with them. At this time of year, I still like a lot of red wines, but I usually want them relatively cheap and relatively cool. From the July Salon I would recommend either the Planet Oregon Pinot Noir or the Domain LaRoque Cabernet Franc. Don’t cool them all the way to refrigerator temp, just put them in for half an hour before serving. The Pinot would be fabulous with grilled chicken or pork and maybe some succotash made with all of those perfectly ripe veggies. The Cab Franc would be good with any meat, grilled, broiled or fried, or a tomato-based pasta dish or a lovely ratatouille. I am serving mine with a brisket this evening—and the ratatouille.
I think that almost any good white would be nice with the corn and the squash—tomatoes are a harder match with a white. The lovely Cremant d’Alsace from Muré says Pasta Primavera to me (yes, I know that primavera or spring is long gone, but a veggie pasta with whatever is ripe at the farmer’s market still sounds great!). Stir fry your garlic, onions, and bell peppers first to get them nice and soft. Then fry up some good squash, thinly sliced, and when those are done add some chunked tomatoes. After the pasta is cooked and added to the vegs and stirred around, just hit it all with some basil and parmesan. If that’s too plain for you, it can be great to add a couple of anchovies or some red pepper flakes or some balsamic vinegar. The Cremant is made just like fine champagne, but it doesn’t take itself as seriously. So it’s perfect for this late summer supper.
If you’re not into the bubbles but still want something that pairs wonderfully with food, try the Nostre Pais white blend from the south of France. It’s made to go with things like seafood (I wanted grilled trout the minute I tasted it) or a lovely corn and zucchini quiche. I think it would also be great with a bucket of fried chicken for those who can’t bear the thought of heating up the kitchen at all. Check out Jane Barleycorn’s great Alsatian whites and Oregon whites if you want to try something a little different.
Just thinking of all of these yummy pairings makes me remember that the dog days have nothing to do with things you wouldn’t wish on a dog. Rather it’s all about Sirius, the dog star, the brightest star in the firmament. So before the next rains hit us, we probably need to grab a glass of wine and head outside and take a look.
1) Muré Cremeant d’alsace Brut $21.95
2) Nostre Païs 2013 60 % Grenache, 20% clairette, 15% roussanne, and 5% viognier… $22
3) Au Bon Climat Chard 13.5 % abv 2013 Santa Barbara $26
4) 2013 Francois Villard Le Grand Vallon Condrieu $70
5) Planet Oregon, Soter Vineyards, 2013, $21
6) 2014 Domaine Laroque 100% cab franc $13