I was on the Today show this morning (check out the clip here), recommending a few summer's-almost-over-don't-miss-them beers and wines to Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. It was, as usual, a slightly crazy affair, but a lot of fun.
Beer-wise, I suggested people track down New Belgium's Skinny Dip, a light beer (114 calories) that doesn't taste like a light beer—i.e., doesn't taste like watery dreck. I'm not quite sure how the New Belgium brewers manage that, but if you're inclined toward light beers, you could do far, far worse. I also mentioned Hoegaarden, a classic Belgian witbier, faintly flavored with coriander and orange peel. The cloudiness (which is natural) seemed to worry KLG and Hoda, but in the end they seemed to like it; personally, I think the stuff's a no-brainer on a hot summer day.
In terms of wine, my recommendations included the 2008 Foxglove Chardonnay ($13, find this wine), an unoaked Central Coast Chardonnay with crisp tree-fruit notes and impressive intensity; the 2008 Crios de Susanna Balbo Malbec ($15, find this wine), which for the price provides a lot of smoky blackberry fruit and works well as either a summer-grilling or winter-warming wine; and 2008 Saracco Moscato d'Asti ($15, find this wine), which is perfect for summer desserts—lightly sparkling, low in alcohol, with pretty tangerine and floral notes.
I also got to walk down a set of stairs next to George Foreman, who was on the show, too, and looking mighty dapper in a striped, off-white suit. I have to say he drew more attention than I did.
I am a spinach-pie fanatic. Doesn't matter if it's the Greek phyllo variety or the folded-dough Middle Eastern sort; there is no food more perfect in my mind. And just recently, I had a spinach-pie-and-wine pairing epiphany that makes the ultimate even better.
My neighborhood Middle Eastern place, Zaytoons, is BYOB and happily just down the road the from another local fave, Smith & Vine, my go-to wine shop for stuff from excellent small producers world-over. Last week, over the aforementioned spinach pie, my boyfriend Michael surprised me with a bottle of fizzy rosé called Moussamoussettes from one of my favorite Loire producers, Agnès et René Mosse. I'd never seen this wine before, probably because they don't make much of it and it's nearly impossible to find, but it was incredible, with juicy strawberry flavor and an intriguing fennel note. Sparkling wines tend to go really well with salty foods, and this was excellent with the feta-filled spinach pie; the fruitiness was great with the spices, like za'atar, as well.
I sadly won't be able to get my hands on a bottle of Moussamoussettes every time I eat spinach pie, but there are plenty of other sparkling rosés that will go equally as well. Here are a few to try:
2006 Llopart Rosé Cava (about $17, find this wine) This rather rich cava from Spain is excellent year after year. This vintage has a pretty floral aroma and an unmistakable burst of cherry fruit.
NV Riondo Raboso Pink Prosecco (about $10, find this wine) Pale pink with some herbal notes, this delicately frizzante prosecco from Italy's Veneto region is a steal.
NV Domaine Chandon Rosé ($22, find this wine) This juicy rosé from one of California's top sparkling wine producers is loaded with ripe red-berry fruit.
Wines Under $20
I had a good time appearing on Today this morning, recommending wines for their "Made in America" Friday whip segment. (On the whip they run through four or so variations on a topic in a speedy way.) In this case "made in America" meant not made in California—which was a great chance to highlight some of the other great wine regions in the country. I brought along:
• The NV Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Blancs ($12), a nice, creamy and fairly full-bodied sparkler from Washington State
• The 2008 A to Z Wineworks Rosé ($12), a fragrant dry rosé from Oregon made with (oddly enough) Sangiovese grapes
• A terrific, crisp, Kabinett-style Riesling from the Finger Lakes, the 2007 Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard Dry Riesling ($17), which will also age beautifully if given the chance
• And one of my favorite Texan wines, the 2006 Flat Creek Estate SuperTexan ($19), a juicy, robust Sangiovese blend that I first ran into while touring around the Hill Country with my father, doing some barbecue research.
Plus, I got to see Al Roker sing part of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" from on top of a crane, which was definitely the sort of experience you don't get every day.