Monday, October 20, 2014

Wines to Drink on Jury Duty

By Liza B. Zimmerman

My favorite part of doing my civic service has long been the great lunches I can have around courthouses. When I used to serve in Chinatown in Manhattan I loved popping out to Vietnamese food on Doyers Street and near Canal Street. Most of these places aren't known for their wines but you can bring whatever you like, generally for a minor BYOB fee.

The spicy and somewhat sweet flavors of Vietnamese food work so well with acidic and well-balanced white wines. Grüner Veltliner has long been a favorite of mine and Berger is a great value for a liter bottle (although you might want to invite friends to join you on your lunch break).

Fairly dry Rieslings are also divine with Asian flavors. I seek out wines from Alsace because it is easy to guess their sugar level: thankfully almost always pretty dry. In New York State, Dr. Konstantin Frank is a deserving icon, is making some beautiful versions, particularly from the Finger Lakes region. Washington State's wines, from both small and large producers, are also some great examples of the varietal.

Burmese Pairings
When I had to serve on jury duty in San Francisco I head to a little outpost of Vietnamese and Burmese places on Larkin Street. I had a great Chilean Sauvignon Blanc with my crunchy peanut- and garlic-inflected green tea leaf salad. The nuttiness of Burmese, often paired with less heat from peppers and sauces can call for wines with less sugar and greater and sometimes broader, quasi-oxidized flavors.

Chile and Bordeaux are great places to seek out these wines. Chile makes great single-varietal Sauvignon Blancs, while Bordeaux generally blends them with Sémillon. Neither area produces overly grassy wines, which I often find to be very unfriendly to food pairings.

Some of the Rhône blends: anything with Marsanne, Roussanne or Viognier can also work fantastically well with Burmese curries and sometimes Indian-influenced rice dishes. These are wines you can seek out from Eastern Washington, Paso Robles and even other regions close to the Rhône, such as the Languedoc.

If You Just Want a Hamburger
Not everyone wants a fancy meal during the middle of the day. Simple classics are also easy to eat at lunch, particularly if you want to catch up on email in a park and get some sun. So if you do just grab a delicious, charred and somewhat rare  burger and you can easily pair it with anything from spicy Cal-Ital to Iberian varietals. Cabernet Sauvignons work as do Zinfandels. Local bars are making better and better burgers--and even ribs north of the Mason-Dixon Line--so they are another great way to pass the time during that little reprieve that the judge gives you.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

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