"Look at that mountain, look at those trees…"

by Katie Pizzuto on October 8, 2008

in Food/Wine Pairing,WBW,Wine

I awoke to rain hitting the skylight in my bedroom and thought, shit, I’m supposed to go hiking today for the upcoming Wine Blogging Wednesday! Bacchus must have heard me cursing the clouds and parted them for me, so I could head up to the mountains of Ringwood, NJ with a wineau’s picnic packed into my car. Russ Beebe, a.k.a. Winehiker is the host of this WBW at his blog Winehiker Witiculture, and he asked that we imagine we were walking in the cool woods of Autumn. As we walk, we’re working up a sizable hunger (and thirst) for that post-hike picnic we’ve got planned. Which wine would we pour to celebrate autumn? Apparently, there were also bonus points for choosing a local wine, sharing the name of the wilderness where we’d enjoy the wine, and super-duper bonus points for actually drinking it there. Me likes bonus points!!!

I’m fortunate enough to live close enough to New York City that I can drive in any time I’d like, but also fortunate to live in a town that has a couple of state parks, plenty of hiking trails, and even more lakes. So we decided to take our hike up behind Ringwood Manor (northern NJ), past the burial plots of the town’s founders and big wigs. The leaves are already beginning to turn up by us, and though the path was muddy from the morning rain, the sun danced its way down through the trees. And yes, we got hungry and thirsty, so we eventually headed back to the picnic/barbecue area that they have near the manor, with basket in hand.

The wine I chose? Pindar Vineyard’s Pythagoras from the North Fork of Long Island. That’s gonna have to do for chosing a “local wine” because I’ve yet to find potable Jersey juice! Pythagoras is a classic Bourdeaux blend, with all 5 major grapes: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc petite verdot, and malbec. This wine has an amazing nose—something a lot of winemakers seem to overlook. I actually enjoy smelling it just as much as drinking it. It’s very earthy and funky. Once it hits my mouth it’s got soft cherry fruit with a little spice and oak that keep me coming back for more. At about 12 bucks, it’s an exceptional value, and how could I not love a wine whose name conjures up images of the great Greek philosopher whose geometric theorem and codification of the musical octave were the least of his contributions?

Like I said, we were hungry, too. So I had planned a lunch to pair as well as possible with our local wine. Earlier in the morning I had made some blackened skirt steak in a cast iron skillet, sliced it up, and made sandwiches on ciabatta with caramelized onions, a reduced wine sauce and crumbled blue cheese. The protein and fat helped reduced the tannins, but the spice in the steak’s rub helped bring out the peppery nuances in the wine. Not to be outdone by lunch, however, dessert paired up just as well, if not better. I made very simple, dark chocolate truffles that had been dusted with cocoa powder, and I can’t tell you how amazing these were with the wine. When the picnic was over and no one was around, we kicked our shoes off, grabbed our glasses and headed for the swings in the playground, knowing damned well that it would soon be too cold to do so anymore.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Camille October 11, 2008

I’ve just recently been introduced to your blog & find it most interesting! Being from Vancouver, BC, Canada, unfortunately we can’t get a lot of the wines you speak of, & the ones we can get are priced $7 – $10 higher than what you pay for them…lovely gov’t duties & taxes!!!
Your afternoon hike/lunch sounds wonderful & your menu made my mouth water! You’ve inspired me for my dinner tonight! I smiled at the thought of you on the swings, glass of wine in hand, joy of childhood activity in your heart…


2 Katie Pizzuto October 12, 2008

Camille, so glad to have inspired a dinner! I would have added the sandwich to my recipes were it not for the fact that I was “winging it” the whole time! I’m really glad you mentioned not finding a lot of our wines up in Vancouver, for now you have inspired ME for future posts!


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