America is a country of dreamers, and I’d be willing to bet that some of the biggest dreamers are denizens of the wine world: winemakers, store owners and restaurateurs who want to captivate us with their vision of the good life. In this issue, we visit some of these remarkable people and look at how they turn their dreams into reality by creating amazing wines and pairings.
Executive Wine Editor Lettie Teague travels to Kentucky to visit Kendall-Jackson founder Jess Jackson, whose Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay probably converted many beer drinkers to wine when it first became a sensation in 1982. Over a lunch of barbecued shrimp and cheese grits, the California legend chats with Lettie about his twin obsessions: wine and racehorses. In another story, Scottsdale, Arizona, restaurateur and oeno-provocateur Peter Kasperski confesses to writer Jon Bonné that he tries to educate and stimulate an entire city with the iconoclastic wine selection at his seven restaurants. Some of his most exciting pairings are with chef Nobuo Fukuda’s Japanese-style food. One favorite: steamed sea bass with wild mushrooms matched with a Burgundy from Vincent Girardin.
Solving the pairing puzzle at a restaurant is easier when there’s an expert on hand to help, but doing so at home can be challenging. That’s why we asked chef Shea Gallante for recipes that go well with many wines. His crostini with ricotta and chorizo is fantastic with white Burgundy, white Rioja, and a Greek white.
As far as I’m concerned, the key to great food and wine pairings is eating and drinking what you like without overthinking the match—and always being willing to try new bottles. I hope Senior Editor Ray Isle’s list of the 67 best American wines for $15 and under will motivate you to experiment with pairings, even unlikely ones, like sushi with Cabernet Sauvignon!
Wine on My Mind
The Billionaire’s Vinegar
Due out in May, Benjamin Wallace’s book about the provenance of the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold is a riveting wine history, wine mystery and more.
Adour in New York City
Alain Ducasse conceives every dish on the menu here with wine in mind. I adored the lobster thermidor, paired with a 2002 Château Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc. 2 E. 55th St.; 212-710-2277.
1987 Beringer Bancroft Ranch Merlot
Loved this terrifically youthful Merlot by Ed Sbragia. After 32 years at Beringer, the famed winemaker will be passing the torch to Laurie Hook.