On Any Given Friday Night
Copyright © Erik Pennebaker, All rights reserved

The night starts with some appetizers - homemade bruschetta, some homemade donut holes (more like, deep-fried sweet yeast bread than donuts really). Dinner is deep-fried catfish over corn relish with spicy mayonnaise, some sort of greens (perhaps mustard?), jicama salad, and deep-fried brussels sprouts.

Dessert - a wonderful tart, fruit laid out perfectly, a lite glaze....and some more donuts.

The wine drinkers finished off the four bottles above (plus a white opened to start.)

Enjoying wine is about creating a history of your own with types of wines, types of grapes, vineyards, places....these all have a story for me. The barbera (from this vineyard) was perhaps the first wine I really tasted ever, probably a 2002 or so. It started an italian wine kick that has never formally ended. Italian reds are wonderful and easy - spending $10 on a barbera like this one is a pretty safe bet. Serve with anything slightly spicy or tomato-y (like bruschetta) and all kinds of magic happens. This particular barbera is pretty common and while not mind blowing I grab a bottle every once in a while for old times' sake.

The pennywise petite sirah was a recent find at whole foods. A great deal at $10. Petite sirah is uncommon, usually kept in a small section or just grouped with the sirahs (which is not the same thing). Imagine acidic, tannic, full bodied, then turn the knobs down to 6 or 7. I've been able to find some good petite sirahs for $15, although at times some miss the mark, being decent but not very representative of the grape. Anyway the petite sirahs are my latest interest - I got one bottle of this, then got four the next time. Probably I'll never see the label again, or if I do it won't be good. Some wine maker bought some cheap grapes and managed to make an inexpensive, pleasant wine. Many cheap wines just try to hard. If you are still tasting it after ten seconds, it is probably not a good thing. A good table wine lights things up for a few seconds and then passes modestly from the palate, and doesn't turn your teeth purple or give you a headache.

Rick came across the Iron Horse pinot noir, which we liked a lot. Eventually we went to the vineyard and got to try this pinot rose. A red versus a white wine is simply an issue of how long the skins are left in, if I recall. A cheap rose can be made by mixing white and red wine. Roses are treacherous wines. A great way to mask a bad red is to mix it with a bad white, or vice versa. It's hard to find a good one, but I like the iron horse quite a bit. At $20 a bottle it's not a bad price. At the vineyard I was a little disappointed with all the reds that I had gone there to try, although it was our 3rd vineyard and my palate might have just been shot. The Rose de Pinot Noir was a great match for dinner, when a red might have not worked well with the fish, but a white might have been too light.

The Travaglini Gattinara is like a well upgraded barabera, with an upgraded price. Unlike a lot of french or american reds, a lot of italian wines don't try to take over the table; they are there to make the food and conversation come together. They sacrifice themselves, not leaving a huge and distinct mark on your memory, but becoming part of the gathering themselves. Like a group of friends getting together and eating and drinking, you may not recall what was talked about the whole time, but you remember that it was damn good.

And we'll be doing it again next week...

[ tags: barbera dmc-lx3 farina food Gattinara ironhorse pennywise people stefano Travaglini wine ]

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