Last night I was off to the suburbs – to the lovely land of Sugarloaf in Duluth, Georgia. Yours truly, a couple of super assistants, a generous family and fun guests all participated in a benefit dinner for Turning Point, a women’s healthcare center in Alpharetta. The hosts selected a Mediterranean themed menu for the dinner, so I paired the courses with the following wines – all widely available and all great values for the quality of wine!

Burgans Albarino Rias Baixas, Spain
A perfect partner for grilled or smoky flavors of cumin and smoked paprika, also for Spanish Tapas like olives and roasted peppers. Albarino is often considered the premier quality white wine from Spain. The name of the wine and the grape are the same. Burgans is a great value for the money – fantastic with grilled fish as well. Wonderful aroma of peaches and apricots with a good hit of lemon and tastes of limes and mangos.

Henry Estate Pinot Noir Umpqua and Williamette Valley, Oregon
Pinot Noir is often praised as the most versatile and accommodating red wines, and this one is no exception. Pinot Noir is an excellent choice as an “entry level” red wine, and can often bridge a gap when you’re not sure what to choose, red or white. Delicious fresh cherry aromas are what you smell and when you taste the Henry Estate – those cherries are evident along with a nice snappy acidity to back them up. Pinot Noir, (the prominent grape from Burgundy, France and in the wines of the same name), has made an excellent home in Oregon, where the weather is ideal for the cultivation of the sometimes difficult-to-grow but incredibly delicious grape.

Domaine La Garrique Cotes du Rhone Cotes du Rhone, France
From the Southern end of the Rhone Valley, comes this ripe blackberry/blueberry tasting wine with a fragrance of dark black cherries, smoked herbs and a hint of leather or tobacco. Grenache is the dominant grape in this wine along with a quarter Mourvedre and a little Syrah. Cotes du Rhone is always an unrivaled choice with roasted meats or chicken. One of my favorite easy to drink quaffers to accompany a casual dinner for friends. 

Vinosia Primitivo Salentino, Italy
Primitivo, the “cousin” grape to our much beloved California Zinfandel is a wine loaded with fragrant deep dark dusty flavored black fruit, berries and spice. Fruity and Jammy, this one is easy to drink by itself or with any red sauced pasta. Pairs well with anything off the BBQ and matchless with a traditional Chicago pizza topped with meat and anchovies.

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