On Sunday, three of us sat sipping Chandon NV Sparkling Ros?($22), our Wine of the Week, at Juilliard Park. Dozens of people danced as great rockabilly blasted from the stage, kids twirled through the crowd, dogs strained at their leashes and everyone seemed blissfully content. It was exactly what summer should be.
The wine fit the occasion perfectly in part because it is so refreshing, with a suggestion of cold watermelon (the part near the rind that isn?t at all sweet), and in part because it has a personality that makes it a pleasing companion with almost anything you want to eat. It went perfectly with our corn on the cob, cherries and nectarines.
The flavors of other fruits weave through the watermelon, suggesting everything from Pippin apples and not-quite-ripe Rainier cherries to white nectarines, Comice pears, Asian pears and strawberries, picked in the morning before the sun has warmed them.
One of the sparkler?s most engaging qualities is a lush texture that some people describe as creamy. Yet creaminess in a sparkling wine is often accompanied by a mouth-filling mousse or foam, a quality I do not love. It is not the case with this wine; rather, it is a concentrated softness, a lushness directly on the palate, contributed in part by the still pinot noir added at ?tirage,? the process that readies a wine for secondary fermentation.
The average consumer still expects that so-called pink wines ? and this one is the loveliest color, like wild salmon that has fed on krill ? will be sweet, a quality that limits the range of foods that can flatter the wine. But Chandon NV Ros?is dry, with a restrained elegance that will educate skeptical palates with a first sip.
Because the wine is so versatile, enjoy it now with summer?s harvest and the foods we like at this time of year ? sliced heirloom tomatoes, gazpacho, barbecued ribs, wild Alaskan salmon and grilled pizza ? but also keep it in mind as fall and winter set in. When Dungeness crab seasons begins, you?ll want to serve this wine with the year?s first crab Louis. Just the thought of that match is so enticing that for today?s recipe I can?t resist a summer version, based on the Oregon baby shrimp that Dave Legros sells at several local farmers markets. Traditionalists, please note: I have taken many liberties.
Summer Shrimp Louis
Makes 2 servings
3tablespoons heavy cream
3tablespoons bottled chili sauce, such as Heinz
?cup mayonnaise, preferably Best Foods
2scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
2teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
?Black pepper in a mill
?Pinch of ground cayenne
2medium ripe heirloom tomatoes, trimmed and cut into wedges
2eggs, hard-cooked, peeled, chilled and cut into wedge
8ounces cooked Oregon baby shrimp, drained of any juices that have collected
2teaspoons minced fresh Italian parsley
4 or 5small radishes, trimmed and cut into lengthwise wedges
First, make the dressing. Put the cream into a narrow bowl and use a fork or whisk to whip it until it is fairly stiff. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chili sauce, mayonnaise and scallions. Tilt the bowl slightly, add the lemon juice so that it pools in one area and put several generous pinches of salt into the juice; agitate the bowl gently to dissolve the salt. Season with several turns of black pepper and a pinch of cayenne and fold gently. Cover and refrigerate while you make the salad.