People have so many different thoughts when it comes to perfect wine pairings; and with the beginning of college football season on the cusp, my mind wanders to those awesome tailgate parties enjoyed in years past before every home game. Even though at this time of year, the needle on the temperature gauge remains quite high and while some prefer to have a cold beer with their burger or brat, I believe that a chilled white wine fills the bill nicely. Especially refreshing are some of the many white blends that are available, as well as Pinot Grigio.
An all-time favorite is Conundrum, which in most years is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat Canelli, Viognier and Semillon. The Muscat Canelli grape is used to add floral overtones to the wine, while small amounts of Viognier and Semillon are added to provide some complexity. The percentages of each grape that are used to produce this wine changes from year to year, hence the name Conundrum -- or in other words try to solve the puzzle of what is in the bottle.
In most years, Conundrum has a nose of tropical and citrus fruits and usually has a very nice mouth-feel with a nice refreshing finish. Originally, this wine was bottled under the Caymus label, but while the winery is owned by the Wagner family who founded Caymus in 1972, the Caymus name was removed from the label more than a decade ago. This wine goes well with brats as well as grilled fish or chicken and any type of shellfish.
The Big House White
is a blend of the Mediterranean varietals Malvasia Bianca, Muscat Canelli, Viognier and Roussanne, which makes it quite aromatic. It normally contains a number of fruit flavors including peach, lychee, melon and apricot with a fairly long finish. It should complement the spice of barbecued ribs or grilled sausages.
The Maso Canali Pinot Grigio is produced from grapes grown on a 17-acre vineyard in the mountainous Trentino region of Northern Italy, land that has been part of the Canali family Estate for more than 500 years. This Pinot Grigio is usually quite aromatic with citrus and apple flavors and has a nice round mouth-feel. It pairs well with chicken or shrimp kebabs fresh off the grill.
The Maso Canali uses the traditional cork as a closure, while both the Conundrum and the Big House use Stelvin closures -- commonly called screwcaps. One nice thing about a screwcap is that it is just as easy to open a bottle of wine as it is crack open a cold beer while tailgating. On the other hand, if you're sitting in one those Raymond James Stadium parking lots on a typical muggy night, I guess there's nothing wrong with just popping the top to a Bass beer -- if you must.
Jim Rawe, a family attorney in Bradenton, is an avid collector of fine wines. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.