SINCE MOST people think that Portugal is synonymous with Port wine, I take every opportunity I can find to introduce fans of red wine to what I consider to be some of the best red table wines in the world; those made with Touriga Nacional grapes grown on the steep, rocky slopes of the Douro Valley.
While there are lots of precious wines that can be had for those with pocketfuls of money, I have to say that my favorites are the less expensive table wines such as this 2007 Pombal Do Vesuvio. The wine has such a blueberry-raspberry forward flavor and velvety softness that I love it by itself. But I have to admit that it's also great with home-style Portuguese cuisine such as this dish of chicken, rice and chorizo.
It's interesting to note that the Quinta do Vesuvio is part of the Symington family of wineries which include Dow brand port wines. The wine is $28. For details on the dish, click on the recipes tab on the home page.
In the world of wine and food pairing, asparagus is known to be problematic. It's a vegetable with huge personality, one that tends to call for a bright Fume Blanc or a sweet style Gruner Veltliner.
IT'S DESSERT TIME in my world, which means it's a perfect time to figure out which sweet libation goes with which dessert. After sampling a gooey, chocolately dessert masterpiece called Sticky Chocolate Brownies, I headed straight for the port wine rack in search of a pair. I tasted and sipped one after another until I found the right one. Dow's Tawny Port doesn't work because it has almost the exact same flavors and sweetness of the dessert. Together, the two become a giant sugar sugar bomb. The Dow Ruby is a mistake because it's bright berry flavors clash with the richness of the dessert. The Calegari Vineyards Port from the Russian River Valley is just too young -- better with berries and panna cotta than this hunk of decadence.
AT LONG LAST I found exactly the right sip: Graham's Six Grapes Port, a port with a bit of that tannin-backbone you find in a red wine. The youthful tannins help it to cut through the sweet, draw attention to the deliciousness of the chocolate. This is the one you want with those brownies, with your chocolate pie, or with that leftover Halloween candy you'll be eating for the next week.