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Alsatian cabbage a classic match with riesling

Our Wine of the Week, Smith-Madrone 2016 Napa Valley Spring Mountain Estate Riesling ($34), is as suave and smooth as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers taking a twirl across a dance floor.

There is a bounty of forward fruit, suggesting primarily apricots and white peaches, followed by a mid-palate softness evocative of lemon curd. The finish is clean and crisp, with little bursts of minerality. There is the slightest impression of sweetness, too, not from residual sugar but from the fruit itself; the wine is dry. There is just the slightest hint of sweet spice.

At the table, the wine can take a bit of heat, especially from Indian cuisines, as it merges beautifully with plain whole milk yogurt, a traditional condiment for countless Indian dishes. To enjoy this wine with grilled chicken or pork, add a simple raita — yogurt with diced cucumber or minced radishes — alongside and you’ll have a match that soars.

When searching for delicious pairings, look to the wine’s roots, especially in Alsace, the eastern France region where the varietal thrives. The mountainous area is known for its charcuterie and its sauerkraut, both which pair with this wine. Fresh water fish is an Alsace specialty, and if you snag some wild trout, you’ll enjoy this wine alongside.

Inspiration for today’s pairing comes from Alsace, in a classic recipe that is easy and versatile. It is traditionally served with pork cutlets. I like to serve it with pork chops I season with salt, pepper and a bit of ground cumin; sauté in butter and finish in a 250-degree oven, which helps keep America’s low-fat pork tender. The cabbage also is delicious with roasted potato wedges and grilled pork sausages.

Alsatian Cabbage

Makes about 6 servings

1 small-medium green cabbage, cored and loose outer leaves removed

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small yellow onion, trimmed and very thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

Kosher salt

Black pepper in a mill

2 cloves

½ cup dry riesling

1 bay leaf

2 fresh thyme sprigs

Use a very sharp knife to cut the cabbage into very thin slices; you should have about 6 cups.

Put the butter and olive oil into a large sauté pan set over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the onions and sauté for about 7 minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the cabbage, stir and turn to coat with butter and oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook until the cabbage just begins to wilt, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the wine, bay leaf and thyme. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to high and cook until the liquid is almost completely evaporated. Remove from the heat and use tongs to remove and discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs.

Tip the cabbage into a serving dish and enjoy hot, right away.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date. Email her at michele@micheleannajordan.com.

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