Our Wine of the Week, Whitehall Lane 2010 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($18), is bright and refreshing, full and round in the mouth, with a suggestion of plushness that reverberates on the wine's long finish.
This is a wine that will please both those who already love the varietal and many who prefer chardonnay.
On first sip, I notice white grapefruit, grapefruit zest and pith, followed by lime zest and a nice flourish of Eureka lemon. A bit of jalapeno sneaks in there, too, along with not-quite-ripe gooseberry and a touch of green peppercorn.
Among familiar white varietals, sauvignon blanc is the most food friendly, flattering a wide array of flavors and dishes with its lean, pretty acidity and intimation of citrus, in the way that a spritz of lemon juice boosts the flavor of everything from salad greens to grilled steak.
Enjoy it with shellfish, white fish, green vegetables, pork loin, pasta with ricotta and lemon, rice salads and the Vietnamese salads called bun.
A wine such as this one is obviously a great choice with our beloved Dungeness crab.
Simple cracked and chilled Dungeness with nothing more than lemon is ideal with this wine.
For today's recipe, I've chosen a simple crab salad with layers of flavor that mirror those of the wine. When you make it, be sure to remove all the seeds from the chile. I suggest tasting a small piece first and reducing the amount if it is particularly hot.
Because of our cool summer, a lot of local chiles have less heat than in warmer years, so if you grow your own or buy them at the farmers market, you should be fine. But what you want is the flavor of the chile, not its heat.
Dungeness Crab Salad
Serves 2, easily doubled
1 large Dungeness crab, (cooked, cleaned, picked and chilled (see Note below)
1 small shallot, minced
? jalapeno or serrano, seeded and minced
? brined green peppercorns, drained and cracked
-- Pinch of chipotle powder or smoked paprika
-- Kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 celery stalk, trimmed and cut into very small dice
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, preferably 2011 Olio Nuovo
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1 small butter lettuce, inner leaves only
2 lemon wedges, for garnish
First, prepare the crab if you have not already done so. Chill thoroughly.
Put the shallot, jalapeno or serrano, green peppercorns, chipotle powder or smoked paprika and a generous pinch of salt into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, agitate the bowl to distribute evenly and set aside for 20 to 30 minutes.
To finish the salad, put the crab into a medium bowl, add the celery and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss very gently. Pour the lemon juice mixture in, add the cilantro or parsley and toss again.
Taste and correct for acid, adding the remaining tablespoon of olive oil if needed for balance. Taste and correct for salt.
Divide the lettuce between two plates, spoon the salad on top, garnish with a lemon wedge and serve immediately.
Note: If you need instructions on how to cook and clean Dungeness crab, visit Eat This Now, my blog at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. If you can't or don't want to cook the crab yourself, there are vendors that sell it cooked and most will clean and crack it for you, as well.