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Pairing: Buehler cabernet with spaghetti squash

Our Wine of the Week, Buehler Vineyards 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($28), is a classic example of what Napa County does best.

Our neighbor to the east makes great cabernet, with full round flavors, plush textures and orchards of fruit. Yet this wine has a quality that sets it apart from some of Napa?s best-known wines. At under $30 a bottle, it is a bargain.

If you like big bold fruit, enjoy this wine now. There?s plenty of juicy blackberries, ripe black currants and dark plums, characteristics that will settle down over the next few years.

The tannins, too, will soften with time, as the wine loses the brashness of youth in favor of a velvet maturity that is already showing itself just slightly.

This wine would be lovely with a simple beef tenderloin, cooked rare and topped with a dollop of olive butter. Any rare red meat ? beef, buffalo, venison, leg of lamb ? would be happy to share the table with this wine. It?s a natural match.

But what happens if we dig a little deeper? Vegetarians should look to wild mushrooms, especially black chanterelles and morels, lentils, farro, wild rice and eggplant. A mushroom stew over lentils and farro makes an extraordinary and lusty match.

Marinated eggplant over wild rice is another happy marriage, though I suggest waiting until eggplant is in season locally.

For today?s recipe, I?ve paired spaghetti squash with a simple tomato sauce spiked with dried porcini mushrooms, which are available in most local markets.

The slight sweetness of the squash engages the fruity elements in the wine, allowing the earthy savor of the mushrooms to blossom.


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