When the Wine Makes the Meal
How to make an enjoyable Shabbat dinner from bland fish? That was my dilemma a couple of weeks ago.
Other than the desert, which was Dina’s department, I could think of only two things – the sauce and the wine.
The sauce began with sautéed onions (always a good start) and continued with chopped fresh spinach, heavy cream, salt, pepper, ground mustard, and a touch of ground ginger. To this I added the fish and let the whole business simmer for a while in the new electric pan we received as a gift from Dina’s parents.
The wine was a unique rosé that I had received from Avi Yehuda that morning straight from the tank and which I brought home in a plastic water bottle.
Anyone who is familiar with Yehuda’s wines knows that Avi only makes full bodied reds – Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz, and blends. But success in life and in business sometimes requires creativity and a willingness to roll with the punches.
One Friday morning this past September Dina & I showed up shortly past 6 am (insane for a Friday morning) to join Avi and friends in harvesting the Merlot that grows on the slope just outside the winery. We’ve been doing this for several years now and it’s always a lot of fun.
This year the grapes did not cooperate. Many clusters were only partly ripe and some not at all. At first Avi instructed us to harvest only the clusters that were completely ripe, but it soon became clear that the picking would be tedious and frustrating, and there would not be enough grapes to bother making wine. So Avi made a executive decision and gave instructions to harvest all of the grapes; he would make rosé! We dutifully harvested all the grapes and it was quite a haul.
The grapes went into the crusher and then into a tank for fermentation. The juice tasted great but definitely not as sweet as fully ripe grapes.
Until last Friday that was the last I heard of Avi’s rosé experiment.
Now I can report that it is a roaring success.
Everything about this wine is pleasing – the fragrance, the color, and the taste. Dina, who is much better at describing these things than I, says “strawberry.” Strawberry pink in color, strawberry in the aroma, and a hint of strawberry in the flavor. This wine is light and dry and just plain delightful to drink. Since the sugar content of the grapes was lower than expected, the alcohol level is also lower, contributing to the light freshness of the wine.
And that is how I managed to make a successful Shabbat Dinner from bland fish. Of course Dina’s dark chocolate pie didn’t hurt.
I have no idea if Avi will be offering this rosé for sale, but if you can get your hands on some in time for the hot weather, you’ll be glad you did.