Pairings: Rosé and poke are a flawless match

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Our Wine of the Week, Lucy 2018 Monterey County Santa Lucia Highlands Rosé of Pinot Noir ($19), couldn’t come at a better time.

It’s exactly what a heat wave wants, a light, bright, and acidic quaffer that is nearly as delicate as the touch of an angel’s wing. Subtle fruit flavors — a bit of unripe strawberry, hints of watermelon rind, a whisper of Rainier cherries, picked early in the morning when it is cool — take a back seat to bright mineral notes, which is exactly what a sophisticated drinker hopes for in a rosé.

This wine delivers, delightfully.

The wine flatters and will be flattered by a wide range of foods. You can enjoy things with a bit of spice without the wine turning bitter, which means it’s a good choice with Thai curries, provided they are not too hot. It engages beautifully with Insalata Caprese and Sicilian seafood salads dressed with lemon. Oysters on the half shell, sautéed Petrale soul and grilled zucchini welcome the wine, too.

Yet there are two flawless matches, foods that send the wine soaring. One is watermelon, in a simple salad with just arugula, thinly sliced red onion, and a squeeze of lime, or with fried haloumi, a Greek cheese. But it is still a tad early for the best watermelon.

The other flawless match is traditional Hawaiian poke, a very simple dish that is easy to prepare at home. In the last couple of years, as poke’s popularity has taken hold on the mainland, there are many version that have little in common with the traditional dish.

Traditional poke has no rice, no mounds of vegetables, no coconut milk, no mixed sauces. It is simplicity itself and that is the beauty of this match. The wine, too, is an expression of simplicity, in that it takes the most delicate elements of pinot noir and highlights them in an easily accessible, suave wine. The wine and the poke together are both simple and sensational, a thrill to the palate.

Traditional Ahi Poke

Makes 4 servings

2 teaspoons inamona (recipe follows)

1 pound sashimi-grade ahi tuna, trimmed of any dark flesh and cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup ogo (brownish-red seaweed), cut in 1-inch pieces, if available

3 tablespoons soy sauce, and more or less to taste

— Hawaiian alaea salt, lightly crushed, or kosher salt

First, make the inamona, at least an hour before preparing the poke (it will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator).

Put the tuna into a medium bowl, add the ogo, if using, and soy sauce, toss and chill, covered, for at least one hour.

Transfer the poke to a chilled serving bowl. Sprinkle lightly with salt, scatter the inamona over the poke, and enjoy right away.

Variation: Shortly before serving the poke, put about 4 cups (a generous handful) of small-leafed arugula into a chilled serving and spoon the poke on top. Continue as directed in the main recipe.


Makes about 1/2 cup

12 kukui nuts (also known as candlenuts, available in Asian markets) or 24 shelled macadamia nuts

1 teaspoon kosher salt

— Red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Set the nuts on a sheet pan and toast until they are golden brown. Do not let them burn.

Put the toasted nuts into a large mortar and use a wooden pestle to crush them; do not grind them into a smooth paste; you want some texture. Transfer to a small bowl, add the salt and pepper flakes to taste. Stir.

Cool for at least one hour before using.

Michele Anna Jordan has written 24 books to date. Email her at

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