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Of Spouses, Samples & Scampi

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Posted: Monday, December 13, 2010 10:02 am

The best perk of being one of the growing army of wine bloggers is getting free "samples."

However, for some bloggers - though hard to believe - free wine can be as much as a curse as a blessing.

Alder Yarrow, the man behind, every so often announces that he's trudging out to the neighbors to "foist off" surplus cases of free wine. Another blogger receives so many samples that his daughter reflexively announces, "Dad! More wine!" upon seeing the UPS truck pull up.

I don't receive many samples, but I do have a few sitting in my cellar that moan to me when I open the door: "Write about me. Wrrrrrrrite about me." I think those "pro" bloggers have been able to get past the nagging guilt.

This is when my wife, Molly, steps in to help. She is gifted with a very good palate that can catch things like persimmon or cowhide when I'm at a loss in pinpointing an aroma. In fact, if she didn't enjoy wine as much as I do, I wouldn't have made the switch from high-tech to the wine industry.

Last week, some Jessie's Grove Chardonnay yelled loud enough that I had to yank their corks and match ‘em with a meal.

Rather than ramble on, this time I'll turn it over to the wife for the last 400 words...

Aromas of garlic, parsley, lemon and butter emanated from the kitchen into the garage when I came home Sunday night. My husband was making Shrimp Scampi...YES!

If that weren't enough, low and behold were 3 wine glasses out labeled A, B and C - yahoo we're tastin' tonight! Three chilled bottles of Jessie's Grove Chardonnay ($18) were awaiting our critique and I knew we were in for a treat.

We poured their 2007 Chardonnay into glass "A", followed by their two 2008 Chardonnay's in glasses "B" and "C". The difference between the two 08's is that "B" was made in a Chablis style, aged 80% in stainless steel while "C" was aged 100% in American oak, adorned with a golden wax dipped capsule. I couldn't wait to taste these babies with my scampi.

We did our usual "geeking-out," studying our UC Davis Wine Aroma Wheels, sniffing fruit and spice bottles in our cabinet for possible matches and making all sorts of mouth swish noises while we jotted down notes.

"A" was deep and rich, big and buttery with caramel apple and apricot flavors that coat the mouth. "B" was smooth and creamy with a bit more tang of pineapple and lemon flavors. "C" showed cream soda on the palate with caramel, vanilla and peach - all very exciting!

The meal was ready and our quest for the best pairing began. I raised my glass and gazed on my golden beauty, swirled and plunged my nose in for a big whiff. My favorite wine flowed over the top of the scampi ever so gently - not too big, not too crisp, but more a gracious enhancement to the sauce.

Now it was Jon's turn. Like a proud Father adoring his first-born child, he savored each bite, thoughtfully considering each sip until he reached his verdict: "It's A for sure - A is the best pairing," he said.

I tried another bite, "Nope, gotta be C." We both tried again (swirl, smell, slurp). "I still think it's C," I held. "Well, C does enhance the sauce if you really feel there NEEDS to be something added to it." Sensing conflict, I suggested we try again. "I think A overpowers it," I proclaimed. "But A is so full, it compliments the dish for sure..."

Our kids swirled their apple juice, bored to tears. We knew it was time to move on.