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2010 Chais Saint-Laurent, "La Vigne en Vèron," Chinon, Loire, France
Posted: Thursday March 8, 2012
By Bergen.com

"Red with meat; white with fish" – you've heard it time and time again. While it may seem logical enough, it's also a broad statement and not entirely true. If you are one of those folks who "likes your reds," you don't have to stay away from fish to enjoy wine with dinner. The key to syncing up a red with that halibut, salmon or tuna is knowing which wines are lighter, brighter and offer more fruit and acidity over weight and tannins. If you can sacrifice a bold cabernet sauvignon or syrah in favor of a fresh, youthful pinot noir or gamay (Beaujolais) then half the battle's won. Of course, there are flavor profiles to deal with, but at the very least you won't overpower the fish with black currants, tobacco, and cottonmouth-inducing tannins. Generally speaking: 1) Grapes grown in cooler climates tend to deliver wines with higher acidity, making them good candidates for pairing with seafood. 2) Wines that see very little or no oak aging will focus primarily on the fresh, expressive characteristics of the fruit. They're usually easily approachable and made to be drunk young. 3) In a pinch: pinot noir and gamay Beaujolais are safest bets. — Joe Iurato


2009 Aspaldi, Tempranillo Cosecha, Rioja, Spain

Ruby red in color, this 100 percent tempranillo exhibits a bouquet of fresh berries and spice. The spice falls off on the palate and leaves behind a lingering mouthful of tart cherry and acidity. While it's not as engaging on its own, the components of this one do quite well with food.

Pair it with: cedar plank salmon, grilled and smoked fish

How much: $9.99

Where to buy: Total Wine & More locations


2010 Allegrini, "Corte Giara," Valpolicella, Veneto, Italy

Cherries and plums, with undertones of sage, black olives and earth fill the nose. The wine is lively and fresh on the palate, with the taste of cherry dominating through the juicy finish. It's classic valpolicella – delicious, fruit forward, soft and approachable.

Pair it with: red snapper Livornese, pasta with seafood in tomato-based sauce

How much: $10.99

Where to buy: widely available


2010 Chais Saint-Laurent, "La Vigne en Vèron," Chinon, Loire, France

One hundred percent cabernet franc, this is a lovely Chinon for the money. Ruby red color and medium bodied. Fresh raspberries laced with leather, clay and exotic spice. It's clean, crisp and vibrant, with the Loire's food-warranting acidity making it hard to resist another sip.

Pair it with: mahi-mahi, halibut, tuna, fish with spicy ingredients, sushi and sashimi

How much: $10.99

Where to buy: widely available


2009 Fleur de California, Pinot Noir, Carneros, California

Layers of cherry, raspberry and blueberry are interwoven with nuances of vanilla, white chocolate and spice. It's a pretty and bright pinot noir – one that doesn't show any earth, barnyard or dark, dried-fruit character. Generous acidity makes this a terrific food wine.

Pair it with: tuna and salmon.

How much: $17.99

Where to buy: widely available

Joe Iurato is a certified sommelier, wine consultant and lecturer, and a working fine artist. For questions and comments, e-mail him at features@northjersey.com.

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