Most people think of beer, and even green beer, when they think of libations for St. Patty’s Day. While I thoroughly enjoy a nice beer, I would contend that the right wine can be just as enjoyable when celebrating Ireland’s big day. I do not, however, recommend adding green food coloring to your wine before enjoying it!
A nice, crisp Sauvignon Blanc is a great pairing for this month’s corned beef Reuben sandwich. The natural acidity in a high-quality Sauvignon Blanc is just right for cutting through the fattiness of the brisket, butter, cheese and mayonnaise-based dressing on the sandwich. The sauerkraut can be tricky with wine, but the fruity notes in Sauvignon Blanc can work well while the mild citrus flavors in the wine match well with the pumpernickel and rye flavors in the bread.
Sauvignon Blanc is a widely planted white grape, with excellent wines being produced from vineyards in France, New Zealand and Australia, South Africa, Chile and California. Here in California, some of the very best examples of Sauvignon Blanc come from the Dry Creek Valley, Chalk Hill, Napa Valley and Lake County. Don’t be confused when you see the term “Fume Blanc” on the label… Fume Blanc is just another name for wine made with Sauvignon Blanc grapes. The term was introduced decades ago by Robert Mondavi and has continued as an alternative name which several wineries have adopted.
Sauvignon Blanc wines can be produced with or without the use of oak. Those fermented and/or aged in oak barrels will show more richness and body than wines which have not seen oak. Sauvignon Blanc which has been vinified in stainless steel or concrete tanks, without any oak influence at all, will typically exhibit more fresh crispness and bright acidity. It is fun to try the two styles side-by-side in wines made from grapes grown in the same region. It’s interesting to note the differences that the winemaking techniques can impart on wines made with the same grapes from the same area. Then, to add another thought-provoking layer to the discussion, try the two different styles with your St. Patty’s Day sandwich and see which combination works the best. 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