Tuesday, September 04, 2007

It's Too Darn Hot

It's hot in LA. Really, really hot. After a relatively cool summer, the Labor Day weekend was a scorcher. It was 108 degrees yesterday--and that's air temperature, not heat index temperature. Drinking wine in such conditions is not always pleasant. Sometimes, the alcohol does funny things in the heat, like give you crashing headaches and make you feel even hotter.

And food. I usually pick what I'm going to drink based on the meal I'm making for dinner and in this heat wave I didn't want anything that was even tepid in temperature.

So I got some peel and eat shrimp, cooked up in lots of Old Bay seasoning. I got a loaf of crusty bread with rosemary. I tossed a salad with tomatoes, arugula, baby romaine, and some sliced avocado. And I popped a bottle of white wine in the fridge. The white wine in question was the 2005 Arnaud Gaujal Picpoul de Pinet Cuvee des Comtesses ($9.99, domaine547). And it was just perfect for the meal and for the heat. (picture of the 2004 label nicked from domaine547's site, too)

I've never had a wine made with the picpoul varietal, one of the 13 Rhone varietals permitted in Chateauneuf du Pape. Despite its use in the Rhone, picpoul is (we think) native to the Languedoc-Roussillon and I had planned to save this wine for Dr. Vino's indigenous grapes Wine Blogging Wednesday next week--but I couldn't wait. The name "picpoul" literally means "lip stinger," and all I can say is it's well-named! It was lip smackingly bright and acidic, but not in an unpleasant way. Instead, there were really bracing citrus and mineral aromas when the wine was poured. The flavors were of white grapefruit, fresh lemon zest, and a touch of pineapple on the finish. As the flavors held in your mouth, they took on an almost bitter edge, like lemon pith. This was tart, refreshing, and an ideal companion to the meal and to the hot late summer temperatures. For under $10, this represented excellent QPR in my book, and was a nice change of pace from California sauvignon blancs or a Spanish white.

This wine would be perfect not only with shrimp, but with crab, oysters, or fish. If you're looking to beat the heat, this is the wine to pick up and eat with a cool salad and some critters from the sea. You'll feel cooler--and not just because you're drinking a hip, little-known varietal. This wine tastes like a cool dip in the pool--which sounds just about perfect right now.


Danielle said...

I completely uinderstand. I recently moved to South Carolina and I am drinking more white wine than ever before! (daresay, I even throw in an ice cube here and there) It's just too darn hot out. Once the heat index is over 115 all bets are off!

Dr. Debs said...

I hear you, Danielle. Great blog, and I look forward to reading more of your work now that you have a job that supports your love of wine.

Alastair Bathgate said...

Hi dr debs

Although the temperature over here is measured in Celsius (and never gets over 90 farenheit anyway) I cannot empathise.

However, I can share your like of Picpoul. We ate recently at the Wolseley in London and were recommended Picpoul de Pinet to eat with the oysters. I agree it was a perfect match and it was very reasonably priced.