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  Photo courtesy of Dashe Cellars Baby, it’s cold outside. When it’s this cold I like to indulge in Thai food. Something about the hot spices and explosion of flavor on my palate makes me forget that it’s sub-zero temps outside. What pairs with Thai food, you ask? You’ll want to pick out a wine […]

 


Photo courtesy of Dashe Cellars

Baby, it’s cold outside. When it’s this cold I like to indulge in Thai food. Something about the hot spices and explosion of flavor on my palate makes me forget that it’s sub-zero temps outside.

What pairs with Thai food, you ask? You’ll want to pick out a wine with ample body and spices. This gives you a lot of options with whites and reds, and you can even turn to sparkling wines (Spanish Cava would be an affordable choice).

Here are two recommendations.

2010 Orin Swift Cellars “The Prisoner” Red Wine Blend (Napa Valley, Calif., $38) is a wine lots of people are talking about. And for good reason: It’s got cedar on the nose and complex layers of bright red cherry and black currant, finishing off with a twinge of fig before sliding into soft, pepper-y tannins. At least six people demanded I sip it before I finally did during a freak snowstorm that kept me in New York City last month, and with take-out Thai from a place in Queens. Six red-wine grapes go into the blend, with Zinfandel the bulk of it (44 percent) as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Charbono and Grenache. (orinswift.com)

2010 Dashe Cellars Dry Riesling, McFadden Farms, Potter Valley (Sonoma, California, $20) could easily stand up to the heat in Pad Thai or any other Thai dish with its honeyed notes. I’m a huge believer in this: The more disclosure about the sourcing of a wine’s grapes, the better it’s going to be. Rarely do I sip a “California wine” and walk away impressed. Made in the Alsatian style, this particular Riesling also includes floral notes, apricot flavors and a delightful chalkiness that contributes to the heavier body (dashecellars.com)

DEAL OF THE WEEK
As a downtowner, I’ll admit I don’t often fuel up my car and drive to the western ‘burbs. But when a Tosa friend informed me about Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant’s (coopershawkwinery.com) complimentary tasting I was intrigued. It opened last summer inside the former Claim Jumper tucked into Brookfield Mall on Moorland Road.

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After I passed merchandise that could rival any Napa Valley tasting room (dishtowels embroidered with catchy wine phrases are great but do I really need a leopard-print box to hold my wine?) my eyes fell onto the glam tasting counter. An employee immediately, Napa Valley style, before I even asked, informed me of what’s included in the no-fee tasting. (Or, pay a small fee to sip eight wines.)

All of the wines are made in Countryside, Ill., with some grapes trucked in from other wine regions. The Viognier was quite good – honeysuckle bouquet, peachy notes and excellent mouth feel. The Zinfandel surprised me (I mean, an Illinois Zin?) with its light but bold body, and a forest-floor nose that carries through to the finish. Each of the pours was more than ample, and the free tasting includes the featured wine. The day of my visit it was Barbera Dolcetto.

WINE EVENT OF THE WEEK
If you like A) drinking wine and B) supporting a great cause, then think about heading to Potawatami Casino on Saturday, Feb. 18. From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Woodland Dreams Ballroom is the “Crazy Stupid Love of Wines” fundraiser where you can sip dozens of wines for a flat fee. All proceeds benefit the Bay View Community Center’s outreach to help feed local families in need. There is also a silent auction (I hear that restaurant meals and vacations are in the running, as well as one-of-a-kind chairs hand-painted by Bay View Arts Guild member-artists) and wine educator Tom Vaughan promises to roam the room answering your most-pressing wine questions. Appetizers created by casino chefs turn this into a fabulous night for wine lovers and foodies alike. Tickets are $39 in advance or $45 at the door and can be bought at bayviewwine.org or by calling (414) 482-1000.

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WINE OF THE WEEK
You’ve heard of Duckhorn Vineyards (duckhorn.com), yes? Its infamous Merlot has been known to turn any Merlot disbelievers into major fans of the grape. The Napa winery’s less-expensive line includes 2008 Paraduxx (paraduxx.com), a red-wine blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc for $48. At this price point, it’s the kind of wine you drink with a juicy steak grilled outdoors or to, ahem, pop the question, but I’m telling you that it will be money well spent. I uncorked a bottle over the weekend while hosting a movie afternoon with a friend. By the end of the film there were just a few drops left in the bottle. The verdict: smooth, almost luscious, and packed with raspberry and red-cherry notes, with elegant tannins.

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