GRILLED CHEESE WITH ONION JAM: Brush 4 slices of rustic Italian bread with olive oil on one side; arrange slices with the oiled side down on a work surface. Spread 2 slices with onion jam; top with slices of taleggio cheese. Mound fresh escarole, cut in ribbons, on top; season with salt and pepper. Close sandwiches with the other 2 slices of bread. Cook the sandwiches in a skillet, turning once and pressing with a spatula to compact, until the bread is golden brown and the cheese melts, 6-8 minutes total. Makes: 2 servings
Pairings by sommelier Rachael Lowe of Spiaggia, as told to Michael Austin:
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▪ Sorelle Bronca Particella 68 Extra Dry Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy: As an extra-dry style, this wine has slightly higher residual sugar than a brut. Notes of white peach, golden apple and tangerine are balanced by a plush ripeness on the palate. The soft bubbles and medium acidity will cut through the richness of the cheese, while the fruit notes will intermingle well with the caramelized onion in the jam.
▪ 2011 Marcel Deiss Engelgarten, Alsace, France: Five grape varieties, grown together and blended, make up this special cuvee: pinot gris, riesling, muscat, pinot blanc and a small amount of pinot noir. With rich aromas of candied orange peel, ginger, apricot skin and honeysuckle, the wine is dry on the palate but also unctuous. Its acidity will balance the fat in the cheese, while its spice notes will accentuate the onion jam.
▪ 2015 Darioush Viognier, Napa Valley, California: Grown in the cooler Oak Knoll District and Carneros region to retain acidity and structure, this wine expresses classic viognier characteristics. Fermented in neutral French barrels, its notes of vanilla, kumquat, white flowers and Asian pear come together beautifully and will complement the spices and sweetness of the jam. At the same time, they will do a good job of countering the mushroom notes of the earthy cheese.