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This classic New Orleans sandwich is incomplete without a rosé

Our Wine of the Week, Grounded Wine Company Space Age, 2020 Central Coast Grenache Rosé ($15), appears at the perfect time. Our weather is warming and things are opening up, which means, quite soon, picnics! Toss a bottle or two of this easy quaffer in your cooler, stack some good food on top and head out.

The wine tastes of spring itself, with bright acidity that mirrors cool spring mornings and suggestions of strawberries and not-yet-ripe Queen Anne cherries. There’s just a hint of watermelon, too. The alcohol is in check, 13%. No one flavor stands out, a testament to the skill of the winemaker. The wine is beautifully balanced.

At the table, you’ll enjoy the wine with tuna raw in sushi, poke and tartare or seared with cherry relish and a full-on Niçoise salad. It is also excellent with wild salmon.

One of the great attributes of a dry rosé is versatility, and this one is no exception. It is excellent with chickpeas, either in a salad or in hummus; the earthy quality of the peas brings out a subtle earthy characteristic in the wine. You can enjoy it with most spring vegetables, and it’s also great with pizza, spaghetti and meatballs and something as simple as a grilled cheese sandwich.

For today’s dish, I’m taking inspiration from that classic New Orleans sandwich, the muffuletta. The wine engages so beautifully with the olive salad, and it is the ideal size and shape for taking on a picnic (just don’t forget a good bread knife and small cutting board).

Muffuletta

Serves 4 to 6

Olive Salad (recipe follows)

1-pound round hearth loaf (Costeaux Bakery makes an ideal loaf), cut in half crosswise

½ pound thinly sliced old-fashioned (with pistachios) mortadella

¼ pound thinly sliced soppressata

¼ pound thinly sliced prosciutto

¼ pound mozzarella, thinly sliced

½ pound provolone, thinly sliced

First, make the olive salad, preferably a day before using it. Refrigerate it and let it come up to room temperature before making the sandwich.

Set the bread on a work surface, cut sides up. Divide the olive salad and all its juices between the two pieces, spreading it over the surface.

Cover the bottom half of the bread with mortadella and top it with soppressata, followed by the prosciutto. Arrange the cheese over the meats and carefully set the top half of the bread on top, olive side down.

Press down with your hand, set a plate on top and set a large can on the plate as a weight. Let sit for 30 minutes. (At this point, if you want to take the sandwich on a picnic, wrap it first in wax paper and then in aluminum foil or parchment paper.)

Cut the sandwich into wedges and serve with plenty of napkins or paper towels alongside.

Olive Salad

Makes about 2 cups

1 roasted red bell pepper, peeled, seeded and cut into thin julienne

¾ cup pitted green olives, very thinly sliced

⅓ cup pitted black olives, very thinly sliced

6 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed and minced

1 celery stalk, cut in very thin diagonal slices

1 serrano, roasted, peeled and minced

1 tablespoon brined capers, drained

1 tablespoon brined green peppercorns, drained

2 teaspoons celery seed

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Kosher salt

Black pepper in a mill

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

Extra-virgin olive oil

Put the roasted pepper, green olives, black olives, garlic, celery, jalapeño, capers and peppercorns into a bowl and toss together. Add the celery seed and oregano, season with salt and several turns of black pepper and stir in the vinegar. Taste and correct the seasoning.

Pack the mixture into a jar and add just enough olive oil to cover it by about ¼ inch.

Close the jar and store in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and as long as 3 days. Warm to room temperature before using.

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

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