July 10, 2011

Snacks with Red Wine

Sometimes you had a big lunch and just want "something small" for dinner. Or sometimes, especially now in the summer time, you don't feel like turning on the stove for dinner. Happens to me all the time. Often after a long day at work, I just assemble a snack plate for dinner. I bring out my "house red", the Côtes du Rhône I wrote about here, and dinner's done! Stuff I always have in the house is pita chips, hummus, and olives. My favorite hummus is the one with roasted red peppers, and at the olive bar, I usually go for the kalamatas stuffed with garlic, or the Greek-marinated olive mix.

The lightly salted pita chips, the briny olives, and the smoky hummus really bring out wonderful fruit flavors in the wine. In addition to that, I get the feeling that I am on vacation somewhere in the Mediterranean, in the South of France or the Greek Isles, or at least snacking on an appetizer on the patio of some fancy restaurant on a balmy summer night...

I also got a great tip for some snack food, which also makes a great appetizer for unexpected company by the way, from my readers Becky and Steve. They sent along a wonderful fig spread, and suggested I try it with some Spanish manchego cheese and crusty bread.

I had some whole wheat baguette that day, and also added some meat to the platter, some sopressata, which is a coarse Italian salami. The fig spread has a slightly sweet flavor and I quite like the crunchy little seeds that are part of the charm of this spread. The sheep's milk manchego is more of a dry cheese, with a nutty flavor. The salami added some saltiness and richness to the platter.

Again we have a somewhat Mediterranean theme here, and I paired this snack plate with the 2007 Heredad Ugarte Crianza from Rioja in Spain. This red wine is made primarily from the Tempranillo grape, blended with a little bit of Garnacha, which is the Spanish name for the Grenache grape.

This wine is extremely fragrant, full of fruit flavors of sour cherry and a hint of vanilla. Very seldom do I comment on the mouthfeel of a wine, but this one was remarkably velvety and pleasant. It had some herbal and spice notes, such as clove, and just enough tannins to make your mouth water and want another sip right away.

Ah, what a lovely lunch... The golden fig spread invokes scenes of the sunlight through the fig trees in Dalmatia along the Adriatic coast, and with a wine from Spain and knowing that the manchego cheese came from La Mancha, I can literally see Don Quixote's windmills in front of my inner eye... I know, I sound as if I seriously need a vacation, and I probably do!

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