Our Wine of the Week, Balletto 2017 Russian River Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir ($20), is infinitely drinkable, with a crisp texture and bright flavors suggestive of not-quite-ripe Queen Anne cherries and wet concrete.
It’s perfectly balanced, with no single flavor elbowing other flavors off the stage. There’s just a hint of watermelon, but not the sweet heart; instead, think of the pale pink part just before you get to the white part of the rind.
The wine will refresh you in hot weather but also delight you when the valley’s famous cooling fog rolls in.
As the classic Hawaiian appetizer poke becomes increasingly popular — Oliver’s Markets now offer the mix of raw tuna lightly but perfectly seasoned — this is an ideal quaffer to enjoy alongside.
The wine also pairs beautifully with strawberries in a savory context, with shrimp, for example, or on a baguette slathered with fresh chevre.
It is delicious with beets, too, and will be a great companion to wild Pacific King Salmon when it comes into season. Add a relish of those Queen Anne cherries combined with minced shallots and fresh basil and you have a heavenly marriage.
There’s a layer of richness to this lovely wine, a voluptuousness that suggests it will be a good match with avocado, too, especially in the right context, which brings us to today’s recipe, a simple and scrumptious salad of bay shrimp spiked with lemon and just a bit of red pepper flakes. I frequently make this salad with either fresh young garlic or aged garlic but here I have omitted it, as it overwhelms the delicate beauty of the wine.
Oregon Bay Shrimp Salad
Makes 2 servings, easily doubled
6-8 ounces fresh Oregon bay shrimp
1 tablespoon minced red onion
— Kosher salt
2 tablespoons best-quality mayonnaise, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon fresh snipped chives
— Pinch of red pepper flakes
— Black pepper in a mill
1 avocado, optional
1 large head butter lettuce, tender inner leaves only
Put the shrimp on a clean work surface and use a chef’s knife to chop them into fairly small pieces. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Add the onion and squeeze in about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Season lightly with salt and fold in the mayonnaise.
Taste and correct for acid, mayonnaise and salt; if you want the mixture a bit more tart, add a little more lemon juice; if you want the mixture creamier, add a bit more mayonnaise; if the flavors are a bit flat or out of balance, add a little more salt.
Fold in the chives, pepper flakes and several turns of black pepper. Set aside; the mixture can be made several hours in advance; store in the refrigerator, covered, until ready to use.
To serve, cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Use a very sharp knife to cut the avocado in thin lengthwise pieces, cutting to but not through the skin.
Set two salad plates on your work surface.
Use a soup spoon to scoop out the avocado and set one half on a salad plate, placing it cut side up and off center. Use your fingertips to gently press down on the avocado so that it fans out. Squeeze a little bit of lemon juice over it and sprinkle lightly with salt. Mound some of the lettuce alongside.