Our Wine of the Week, Rutherford Ranch Winery 2012 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($18), underscores the embarrassment of riches we can so easily take for granted but that wine lovers who live in other parts of the country envy: We are surrounded by outstanding wines - at this point, too many to count.
This lovely wine is one of them. It has the crisp bright quality that announces, on first sip, its food friendliness. There's an engaging swirl of citrus that expresses itself in many ways, from Meyer lemon zest to lime juice, lemongrass and maybe a hint of white grapefruit.
At the wine's core — the part that unfolds mid-palate and lingers longer than other flavors — is a lovely minerality, like cool water splashing over river rocks or the scent of rain rising from wet cement.
You may also notice suggestions of tropical fruit — is that papaya? Maybe it's pomelo, starfruit or mangosteen — as the wine trips lightly over your palate.
Another pleasing attribute is the wine's modest alcohol, which weighs in at 12.5 percent. Bravo to its makers! Once a wine creeps much higher, the heat of the alcohol begins to influence, negatively, how it pairs with food.
When it comes to the table, the wine's arms open wide. You can enjoy it with a rare steak if that is your inclination, especially if you top that steak with a squeeze of lemon juice. But its classic matches run straight to the sea, for crab, clams, oysters, flounder and sanddabs. It's excellent with raw cabbage, kale, fennel, radishes, grapefruit salads, avocado and green chiles, provided they are not too spicy. When it comes to dairy, young goat cheeses, feta cheese and whole-milk yogurt are the best matches.
The wine also begs to be paired with celery, especially thinly sliced raw celery, the inspiration for today's recipe.
Celery Salad with Radishes, Chick Peas and Feta Cheese
Makes 4 to 6 servings