Tag Archives: Randall Graham

What wine goes with watermelon?

Wine and watermelon? This week’s wine pairing might border on the impossible.

Watermelon lovers enjoy the fruit because of its simplicity, its juice and refreshing quality.

Similarly, wine lovers enjoy wine because of its juice and in the case if white wine, because it’s refreshing. Unlike watermelon, wine is often enjoyed for its complexity.

So, how do you make watermelon and wine perfect companions?

Find a wine that will highlight all the things we love about watermelon, while still offering enough complexity to stand up to Ann Vogel’s Watermelon Salad and Summer Soup recipes.

In keeping with the pink theme, we recommend a Provencal-style Rosé.

We’ve recommended Rosés before, but this is one of the few wines that could go with a watermelon salad or soup. It also is the best wine to enjoy during the summer because it balances the complex character of a red wine, with the crispness of a white.

There are different styles of Rosé, depending on the type of grape used and how the winemaker chooses to make the wine — will it be dry or sweet?

The best match for Vogel’s dishes is a Provencal Rosé. These wines are typically made from Rhone varietals, and offer a dry palate that quenches thirst and leaves you wanting more. They’re also food-friendly wines.

While we’d love to tell you to head to France’s Provence region — especially Brynn’s former temporary home of Aix-en-Provence — to find the best Rosé, airfare and travel expenses sadly prevent most of us from getting to experience Rosé in true Southern France fashion.

But the good news is, you may only have to travel as far as your local wine shop or grocery story to find a good French Rosé. According to the Provence Wine Council, an organization representing more than 600 Provence wine producers and 72 trade companies, the number of Rosés exported from France’s Provence region to America have reached record-setting levels in the last year.

Exports of Rosé and red wines from Provence to America went up 132 percent by value and 85 percent by volume last year over 2009, according to customs data released by the council in June.

“These percentages represent greater increases than ever previously seen, and rank Provence as the fastest-growing French region in wine exportation to the U.S.,” according to the council.

The next time you’re in the store, ask the wine steward to direct you to the French Rosé section so you can peruse what made its way across the Atlantic, and the continent, to reach Washington. If you find a Rosé you love, share it with us.

We recently had the chance to try a Central Coast Rosé by California winery Boony Doon Vineyards. It’s one we loved, so we’re recommending it for Vogel’s watermelon recipes.

Winemaker Randall Graham has styled his wine after France’s traditionally dry, salmon pink colored wine.

We recently tasted Boony Doon’s 2010 Vin Gris de Cigare at the Rhone Rangers trade show in Seattle. Unlike the winemakers of France, Graham adds “a dollop” of white wine — Roussanne and Grenache Blanc — to his red varieties.

In case you forgot, Rosé comes from red grapes that, after pressing, only stay in contact with grape skins for around 24 hours. That’s what gives the wine its pink color.

Boony Doon’s Rosé is reminiscent of a Côtes de Provence Rosé with its hints of strawberry, white cherry and apple blossom. The wine is dry, which makes it a great pair for the watermelon and sweeter red onion notes of Vogel’s salad. It retails for around $15.

If you’re looking to add a little pizazz to the soup or salad, also consider a Rosé Champagne or Sparkling Wine. The bubbles will add yet another refreshing twist to the already light soup or salad. (It’d also make a nice addition to Vogel’s Watermelon Slushies, just make sure you select a dry, or brut, Sparking Wine or Champagne.)

Dessert wine and ice cream, a grown up treat

Our mantra for this recommended pairing: You must keep an open mind.

It’s supposed to be summer, right? And during summer shouldn’t we all give ourselves a little treat every now and then?

We think so.

After reading the June 10 food page, we started thinking about ice cream and wine and how we could marry the two.

Over the years of tasting many glasses of dessert wine — from bone dry to sugar encrusted — there were occasions when it was suggested to pour the sweetest or the most fruit-forward over ice cream.

It’s a great idea, but there’s one rule that should never be broken when considering ice cream and dessert wine: The wine you pour over the ice cream should be as sweet as, or sweeter than, the ice cream.

In the late 1980s, Joann Bentryn of the famous Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery strawberry wine, suggested pouring their delightful dessert wine over ice cream.

The fruit-forward flavor of the strawberries is a great topping to a creamy vanilla ice cream.

A few years later, winemakers started adding chocolate to their dessert wines — combining wine and chocolate in a bottle.  Deco, a port-like wine, also has chocolate in it. These too encourage pouring the wine over a good vanilla ice cream.

(To clarify, when describing flavors in wine, experts may say it tastes like raspberries or chocolate, but it doesn’t mean they actually exist in wine. That’s the beauty of a grape, it’s a mimic.)

Chocolate in wine might not hit the mark for everyone’s sweet tooth. Luckily for the non-chocolate lovers out there, there’s plenty of pure berry dessert wines — like the Bentryn’s strawberry wine — to choose from.

Randall Graham has a Bonny Doon raspberry dessert wine and Samson Estates Winery has a selection of berry wines like its Blu, a wine made from Northwest blueberries. They also have a selection of other dessert wines that they recommend pouring over ice cream.

These wines are made without grapes, which means the tannic acid found in grape skins is also absent. Without the tannic acid, the wines should be had sooner rather than later — so don’t wait for that special occasion.

The sweetest wine on the planet is from a grape called Pedro Ximenez. PX is a very sweet fortified style of wine from Jerez, Spain. Most sherry houses make a PX, as it is known. Its caramel, nutty flavors make this match delightfully perfect for a creamy scoop of vanilla — or a scoop of chocolate if you’re longing for that chocolate infusion.

So the next time you want to give yourself a summer treat, consider a grown-up version of ice cream with a dessert wine topping.


Brynn and Mary