Tastings: Elevate your takeout dining experience
With the fast approach of the holiday season and a return to frantic, overburdened schedules, the home-cooked meal can go to the wayside. And for many of us, takeout is the only solution.
But a sack of dinner-to-go doesn't have to be a letdown. In fact, it's a treat to be savored.
"Who made it protocol to enjoy these pickup or delivered meals with soda beverages?" asks Michael Taiani, a Pine-Bushed based wine consultant and owner of Wines by the Glass Enterprises. "Why not elevate an evening of takeout food by simply uncorking a bottle of wine to share and pair with?"
Why not, indeed.
"When you stop to consider how inexpensive the meal can be, this kind of quick and convenient dinner provides an opportunity to indulge in a good food-wine pairing at a much lower price than might be typical at your favorite restaurant. And how can a (restaurant) compete with the familiarity of your own home?" says Tim Free of Mid Valley Wines and Liquors.
So we asked our local experts what they drink when someone else is doing the cooking, and here are their favorite takeout and wine combinations:
Sushi and sashimi
Our wine of choice is the 2007 Blanco Nieva Sauvignon Blanc from Spain ($17). It has the New World pineapple and lemon nose but a much deeper finish. This wine has wonderful minerality and depth.
Another option with loads of fruit but also great minerality would be the 2007 Domaine de la Pepière Muscadet sur lie ($15).
Robin Mailey, owner
Callicoon Wine Merchant
If you're already enjoying sushi or sashimi, you probably know the synergy that these foods have with very crisp, lighter white wines. But you may not know of muscadet, a French wine that's produced at the Atlantic end of the Loire River. Because of its proximity to the French seacoast, it's a wine that is made to pair with seafood, and its racy acidity and fine but briny flavors seem to bring out the best of these Japanese-inspired foods. Try our favorite, the 2007 Domaine de la Pepière Muscadet Sevre et Maine ($13.99/sale price $11.99).
This category covers a lot of ground, and we've really loved Peking duck with inexpensive red burgundy. But what we're talking about here is that lengthy list of stir-fry dishes that is most often found at takeout Chinese restaurants. From cashew chicken to moo shu pork, we love the spicy, slightly sweet gewürztraminers from Alsace and America's West Coast, particularly those from Washington state (they have a tad more acidity than the typical California Gewurz). Our recommendation is the 2007 Columbia Crest Gewurztraminer "Two Vines" ($10.99/ sale price $9.49).
I recommend Firestone Vineyards Gewürztraminer (less than $20). The 2006 vintage begins with pure aromas of lilac, tangerine and grapefruit zest. A beautifully weighted palate offers tangy flavors of pear, Mandarin orange and litchi with a hint of spice. Quenching citrus notes balance nicely with a hint of sweetness on a clean, refreshing finish.
Beef, steak dishes
I like the Bogle "Old Vines" Zinfandel (less than $20). This supple and mouth-filling vintage leads with juicy raspberry and ripe boysenberry fruit. Hints of spiced chocolate integrate well with a soft, plush body tinged with black pepper. Subtle hints of toasted oak and pipe tobacco create structure, allowing this wine to stand up to a variety of fare.
I always think of beer with takeout food. Growlers (takeout containers) of beer are the way to go. Find a restaurant that has great tap beers and get a growler to go. Here at Aroma Thyme, our fall/winter growler picks include Chimay Reserve, one of seven certified Trappist breweries (and) the hoppiest of all the Chimays. It still has good malt with lots of fruit and citrus, a bit nutty with hints of pepper. Take this beer home with a steak such as our Japanese Akaushi Strip Steak.
Last week we had a pizza party, and I was really pleased with the 2006 Sur de los Andes' Bonardo Reserva ($15). This Argentine wine had perfect dark fruit and spice.
If you've chosen mild sausage or especially mushrooms, we like the Italian wine barbera to accompany the traditional slice. You can make this seem more natural and a little more elegant if you eat the pizza with knife and fork as is done all over Italy! One of our favorites is the 2005 La Sera Barbera "Il Falu" ($9.99/sale price $8.49).
I also recommend India Pale Ales for the fall cooler weather. IPAs are extra-hopped. They are full-bodied beers that will pair with many foods. On tap (and available in growlers), we have Hop Devil from Victory. This beer has that dry hop mouth feel with lots of floral notes such as lavender and a touch of caramel.
For this beer, I recommend any of our gourmet pizzas, especially our Yukon Potato, Blue Cheese and Truffle Pizza.
With KFC, try Sebastiani Sonoma County Chardonnay (less than $20). The wine has peach, pear, yellow apple and malted vanilla aromas. The flavor is medium- to full-bodied, with yellow apple and tropical fruits with crème brulee oak flavors. The finish is soft with lingering, yeasty and wood flavors from the barrel fermentation.
Each week, we ask wine and spirits professionals for advice. You don't need to own a shop to join the conversation. Wine and liquor lovers are welcome. E-mail Lisa Ramirez at Lmjramirez@hotmail.com.