Crush Season Favorites
By Noel Daniel
The leaves will be falling soon, and the harvest season for vineyards has begun. That means it’s time to put your feet up with a fine wine and relax as the summer heat simmers out of the air. But what wine is best for those countless fall activities that you have down on the to-do list? We’ve asked a few area sommeliers to lend a hand in helping you decide.
BY THE POOL
Imagine lounging in a pool chair, enjoying the last of California’s summer heat with a glass of wine. Jayton Gates, the Wine Director of Bistro 234, has a light and refreshing recommendation—a Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s number one wine. It’s light, similar to a pinot grigio, but has more of a honeydew melon flavor. The wine also has a hint of peach and of citrus, like a lemony zest, and is commonly found by the rieslings. Gates recommends pairing this wine with shellfish or a light strawberry salad—anything nice and refreshing to accommodate its delicate taste.
A WOODSY CABIN
If you’ve booked yourself a weekend in a cabin surrounded by cool, fresh woods, you might want to reach for a Petite Sirah—Co-Owner of Dewz, Scott Aspesi, has a particular fondness for the Alicante Bouschet. It has the petite sirah characteristics, namely it’s a nice inky, heavy red, but the acidity is surprisingly fresh and it rounds off the finish. And there’s just enough fruit to play off the gaminess of a braised lamb shank and some roasted vegetables prepared on your rustic stove for a chilly forest night.
A BBQ TAILGATE
Football season is in full sway, and you’re sure to find yourself with a plate of ribs at someone’s tailgate. Aspesi recommends pairing the saucy meat with a new grape he’s found called Müller Thurgau. The grape comes onto the palate with a delicious passionfruit melon, but also has a high acidity which prevents too much sweetness. And while you’re at it, enjoy both your ribs and the Müller Thurgau with some of Fiscalini Cheese’s aged bandage-wrapped cheddar.
BY A FIRE
Once the evenings get a little cooler, and you find yourself curled up by a fire, one wine recommendation Gates had was a red zinfandel—Lust Zinfandel out of Lodi, in particular. It has about 15 percent alcohol that gives it a bit of heat, as well as the taste of overripe blackberry and the hint of a blueberry texture. It’s certain to warm you up, and would pair well with game food like lamb, boar, or even a juicy hamburger.
WITH A PUMPKIN PIE
One of fall’s greatest desserts doesn’t have to stand alone—pair your pumpkin pie with a port. Travis Chavez, the Chef at Rivi’s Wine Bar, recommends a mulled wine with notes of orange peel, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon to play off the flavors of the pie. Ports, much like pumpkin pie, tend to be more seasonal, and Chavez especially recommends a late harvest zinfandel if you’re sneaking a slice of berry pie onto your plate. But if it’s a white wine you’re wanting, try a white riesling, especially if you’ll be eating a sweeter dessert.
AT A FALL FESTIVAL
Whether it’s a carnival or just a celebration for the leaves finally falling, you might end up with a roasted corn on the cob that you’re dying to pair with a fine wine. No matter the smoky festival food, you might want to consider trying an Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi, a fruit-forward zinfandel that’s a plummy, jam master piece and the perfect foil to your barbecued festival food. It’s Rivi’s Wine Bar Owner Paul Rivera’s wine of choice, and one you should pick up before taking a seat on a hay bale for a local show.
Bistro 234 | 234 E MAIN ST., TURLOCK
Dewz | 1505 J ST., MODESTO
Rivi’s Wine Bar | 150 N 3RD AVE., OAKDALE