Tag Archives: Santa Rita

Red wine with game hens? You bet!

Chicken and lemongrass makes you think white wine doesn’t it?

But you’ve probably learned by now that we don’t always recommend wines that go with conventional wisdom. Yes we like to mix it up a bit, but we also strive to find what we think is the perfect wine for the recipes presented.

Which is why we’re going into the red department for Ann Vogel’s Vietnamese recipe of Grilled Cornish Hens with Garlic, Lemongrass and Five-Spice Powder.

This dish, with its grilled hens and five-spice powder immediately brought Pinot Noir to mind. We referenced our wine and food dictionary, which confirmed our suspicions.

The beauty of Pinot Noir is that you get the complexity of a red wine without the muscle of a Cabernet. Anyone who has watched the movie Sideways is probably not surprised at the impact the 2004 movie had on Pinot Noir sales.

Main character Paul Giamatti goes into great depth explaining why he prefers Pinots to other reds — which also serves as a not-so-subtle peek into the complexity of his character, Miles Raymond.

We of course did not choose Pinot for this dish to try and send a hint to readers about our sensitivity or difficult temperament.  We chose it because we thought it’d go well with the flavors of the five-spice, which covers the flavors of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent, and salty.

For this dish we recommend Santa Barbara Pinot Noir in honor of Miles Raymond and all he did for the Pinot Noir grape.

Santa Barbara County incidentally includes some of the best vineyards and growing areas for the Pinot grape. The Santa Maria region and Bien Nacido Vineyards grow some of the best Pinots in California — and some of the oldest. A third area known for its Pinots is Santa Rita.

While we’d definitely recommend a winery that gets its Pinot from the Bien Nacido Vineyard plots, there might be some sticker shock involved, so we’re going to recommend a wine that fits more in the weekend wine price range.

The Santa Barbara Winery has two Pinots, a 2009 from Santa Rita Hills for $25 and a 2009 from the Central Coast for $17. While these are still a little pricier than we normally recommend, they’re well worth it.


Brynn and Mary