Our Wine of the Week, Handley Cellars 2012 Anderson Valley Gewurztraminer ($18), is a classic, a go-to gewurztraminer for longer than I can remember. It was the first white wine I came to love by name.
This vintage is lovely, with bursts of jasmine and sweet honeysuckle enchanting you before your first sip. On the palate, there's a cornucopia of tropical fruit, as if you'd just walked into a farmers market in, say, Kuala Lumpur. You may notice succulent fresh lychee, a hint of mangosteen -#8212; if you've never tasted this fruit, it's not unlike a combination of white peaches, strawberries and rhubarb -#8212; ripe white pineapple, green melon, custard apple and suggestions of lemon balm, lemongrass and a bit of sorrel.
The wine is beautifully balanced, with pretty acidity that keeps it lively and refreshing.
If you love curries -#8212; Indian or Southeast Asian -#8212; this is a wine for you. It is an extraordinary match with everything from dal (various lentils dishes) with rice, yogurt and chutney to a slow-cooked stew redolent with curry spices and coconut milk. It can take on a bit of heat without turning bitter, though you do want to keep in mind that if you go too far with chiles, the alcohol, 13.8 percent, will begin to interfere. I suggest mild to medium levels of heat if you want this wine to show its many fine qualities.
The wine is also excellent with winter squash, sweet potatoes, pork loin, chicken breast and rabbit.
For today's recipe, I've chosen a Malaysian dish from Malacca, where classic Lemak laksa, a seafood stew with rice noodles, is sweet and creamy. Laksa from Penang -#8212; Asam laksa -#8212; is sour and not quite as rich on the palate as the Malacca version; it works well with this wine, too, though not quite as beautifully as this one, which appeared originally in my book "San Francisco Seafood" (Ten Speed Press, 2000). You'll need to visit an Asian market for several of the ingredients called for here.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
<em>1 onion, chopped</em>
<em> 12 to 16 (2 ounces) garlic gloves</em>
<em> 1 stalk lemongrass, thick part only, thinly sliced</em>
<em> 1 to 2ounces commercial chile paste, to taste</em>
<em> 1/2 ounce Thai prawn paste</em>
<em> 1/2 ounce dried shrimp</em>
<em> 1 ounce (about 1/4 cup) shelled candlenuts or macadamia nuts</em>
<em> 7 to 8 1/8-inch galangal slices</em>
<em> 1/3 cup coconut or peanut oil</em>
<em> 1 14 1/2 ounce can coconut milk</em>
<em> 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or water, plus more as needed</em>
<em> -#8212; Kosher Salt</em>
<em> -#8212; Granulated sugar to taste</em>
<em> 8 ounces (about 15) small black mussels, scrubbed</em>
<em> 8 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined</em>
<em> 8 ounces bay scallops</em>
<em> 8 ounces medium-thin or thin rice noodles</em>
<em> 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves</em>
<em> 1 lime, cut into thin wedges</em>
Combine the onion, garlic, lemongrass, chile paste, prawn paste, dried shrimp, candlenuts or macadamia nuts and galangal in a food processor and pulse until evenly minced and nearly smooth. Pour the oil into a large, heavy saucepan set over medium heat. Add the garlic mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture separates from the oil, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and water or chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook gently for 10 minutes.