Dishes to Pair with Value Wines
Pan-Fried Skate with Brown Butter and Parsnip Puree
Pairing: 2009 Sebastiani Sonoma County Chardonnay ($10)
Roughly half of this wine is fermented in oak barrels, which helps account for its caramel-scented aroma and rich texture. A touch of Roussanne adds a spicy note.
Warm Mushroom Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette
Pairing: 2009 Georges Duboeuf Juliénas ($13)
In the great '09 vintage, all of Duboeuf's cru bottlings (those labeled from the 10 major towns of Beaujolais) are good. But this fragrant red is the best.
Leek Salad with Persimmons and Almonds
Pairing: 2010 Domaine des Huards Cheverny ($15)
A flinty blend of Sauvignon Blanc with 15 percent Chardonnay, this white comes from biodynamically farmed vineyards.
Skirt Steak with Paprika Butter
Pairing: 2010 Col Des Vents Corbieres ($12)
A rich, blackberry-inflected red, this blend of Carignane, Grenache and Syrah comes from the Castelmaure cooperative in Corbières.
Roasted Branzino with Caper Butter
Pairing: 2009 Bibi Graetz Bianco di Casamatta ($11)
The winemaker and talented Tuscan artist Bibi Graetz produces a wide range of wines, among them this vibrant, citrusy Vermentino.
Grilled Rib Eyes with Mushrooms and Fish Sauce
Pairing: 2007 Rodney Strong Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon ($17)
Aided by a terrific vintage, longtime winemaker Rick Sayre has created an impressively layered, cassis–inflected Cabernet.
Tangy Green Zebra Gazpacho
Pairing: 2009 Nobilo Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc ($14)
A combination of grapes from Marlborough's Awatere and Wairau subregions gives this white a good balance of crisp gooseberry and citrus fruit and the grassy, herbal notes that are the hallmarks of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Crab Rolls with Lemon Aioli
Pairing: 2009 CalNaturale Chardonnay ($13)
This fresh white comes in a light paperboard Tetra Pak, helping reduce the wine's carbon footprint.
Black Bean Soup with Crispy Tortillas
Pairing: 2009 Alamos Malbec ($11)
Made by Argentina's illustrious Catena family, Alamos's bottling shows exactly what people love about Malbec: dense, dark-berry fruit and smoky spice notes.
Bay Scallop Pan Roast
Pairing: 2009 Jean-Marc Brocard Kimméridgien Bourgogne Chardonnay en Sol ($14)
Though this crisp white isn't labeled Chablis (a prestigious designation that ups a wine's price), it's grown in the Chablis region's distinctive clay–chalk soil. Kimméridgien refers to the era when the soil was formed, when brachiosaurs roamed the area, not winemakers.
Pairing: 2007 Bodegas Caballo Listán Blanco ($18)
Eliseo Carballo's organic white has nutty flavors that recall fino sherry, plus a distinct saltiness that he attributes to the vines' proximity to the ocean.