Citrus can be a delicious and refreshing addition to many dishes, and it has been used as an exotic element of fine cuisine for centuries. While it melds well with many salads, side dishes, main courses and desserts, it does not always pair easily with wine. This month’s recipe gives us some interesting other flavors to play with and the right wine can work with each of them without running afoul of any of them. A high quality Pinot Gris will lift this entrée with its cool acidity and delicate fruitiness.
Called Pinot Gris in French, Pinot Grigio in Italian and Grauburgunder in German, this widely planted white grape varietal can produce a fairly diverse range of wine styles, depending on where it is grown and how it is handled in the winery. This versatile grape is successfully grown in many places around the globe including Europe, South America, South Africa, Australia, Oregon and of course, California. Some excellent versions are grown and produced here in Sonoma County, and I would suggest starting right here at home to find a great pairing for our Kebabs. In fact, I think it would be a fun exercise to try this recipe with a Pinot Gris made with grapes from the cooler parts of Sonoma County such as the Petaluma Gap or the Sonoma Coast alongside a bottle from one of our warmer regions such as the Sonoma Valley or the Alexander Valley.
The wine from the warmer regions should exhibit more fruit to blend in with the orange flavor and smooth the spiciness from the harissa, garlic and onion. The cooler-weather wine’s acidity will cut through the sweetness from the honey and orange juice, the depth from the mint and the slight fattiness of the beef. Both versions should have the mouthfeel and structure to integrate with each bite so that the various flavors and textures all sing in harmony while the delicate floral notes of the wine can dance along with the citrus and herbs in the dish.
So why not get the beef marinating in the fridge, then head out to a local wine merchant or a couple of recently re-opened tasting rooms and pick up a couple of different bottles of Sonoma County Pinot Gris? Once you’re back home, fire up the grill and let the comparing and contrasting, and the tasting and the laughing begin. Cheers!
Jeff James is the founder and co-owner, with his wife Judy, of Stony Point Vineyard and James Family Cellars. Their Cotati vineyard and winery have consistently produced award-winning wines. Jeff can be reached at info@JamesFamilyCellars.com or www.JamesFamilyCellars.com