2018-07-01 / Wine Notes

Herbal Essence

Robert D. Richards, CSW

As those gardens and farmers markets showcase nature’s mid-summer bounty this month, you are likely to find an abundance of herbs ripe for the picking. Now all you need to do is pick the right wine to complement those herbs, and you’ll be ready to create some culinary delights to share with your family and friends.

Pairing herbs with wines is not as complicated as it might seem. The aromas found in wine often reflect the very essence of the herbs themselves or the ingredients used in combination. For instance, sweet basil, sometimes called Genovese basil, grows abundantly in summer and is a mainstay in cooking — great for pestos, tomato sauces or salads (think Caprese).

Basil and lemon are another perfect combination. What do tomatoes and lemon have in common? Acidity. So, when pairing a wine with a dish that contains basil, look for wines that show higher acid levels, such as Sauvignon Blanc. An unoaked Chardonnay will work, too. Basil is used in many Italian dishes, so try an acidic Italian white, such as Gavi, and savor the results.

Tarragon is a potent herb that has a slight anise aroma to it. With fish or chicken, tarragon contributes a flavor profile that bakes right in when roasting or cooking. It can also be used to flavor vinegar. As with basil, acidity helps in pairing wines with tarragon. Tarragon’s stronger flavor is a good match for the floral nature of a Viognier. If red wine is your preference, try a Pinot Noir.

Chives are part of the allium family, whose prominent members also include onion, garlic, shallots, leeks and scallions. Used prolifically in cooking, alliums provide the basis for soups, stews, sauces and so much more. Chives are a good finisher, especially when sprinkled on top of a dish or featured more prominently on a cracker or crostini. Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc (or Fumé Blanc) are good matches here, but a Chardonnay will do nicely, too. •SCM

Pio Cesare Gavi 2015
(#44438, $19.99)
This crisp, acidic wine shows notes of sour apple and pineapple with a hint of minerality.
Perusini Colli Orientali
del Friuli Pinot Grigio 2016

(#30260, $19.99)
High acidity and tropical fruit highlight this full-bodied, tangy Italian white.
Ferrari Carano Fumé Blanc Sonoma County 2016
(#5703, $17.99)
This consistently high-quality, fresh-tasting wine made entirely of Sauvignon Blanc grapes shows notes of grapefruit and tropical fruit.

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