The constant need to dig out the grill from underneath the continual snowfall has not slowed the feverish pace of the barbecue scene around here, and in fact, New Year’s Day offered a perfect opportunity to turn it on and spice it up.
I cannot think of a better way to end a day of back country skiing or hot spring soaking than by firing up the barbecue. Once the snow is cleared and the coals heat up, the fun begins. So much so that it is easy to almost forget it is winter. The snow in the snow margarita and the wonderful turns made today should be a great reminder.
While sipping that margarita (made with carrot and lime juice, fresh limes and ginger, with agave sweetener and, of course, fresh Colorado powder) there is time to arrange the simplest of marinades and for prepping. Most of the time can then be spent yapping about the day. I believe it, it really was that good.
By now, it’s time to start cracking the wines that were meant for the starters — or the chicken and seafood — so I opened a bottle of Del Rio Vineyards Rouge Valley Rose Jolee. I have written about this muscat-based rosé from southern Oregon’s Rouge River Valley before. It is a compelling sweet wine that starts out as a white and has five percent malbec and syrah each added for color. Aromas of lavender soap lift from the glass to my nose and fill me with nostalgia from far away times, when I soaked my paintbrushes in lavender soapy water. Lavender, orange flowers, peach and strawberry flavors wash away with an edge of minerality, while a huge burst of effervescence confirms how vibrant this wine is, and how well it shall pair with parts of the meal.
That would be the ahi tuna that was marinading in plum vinegar, horseradish mustard and sesame oil. I added a couple shakes of teriyaki to the fish before cubing and skewering it. Next, the grass-fed Colorado tenderloin from its marinade of teriyaki, flame-roasted garlic and hot sesame oil and was also cubed and skewered.
All the while a nice merlot from Bordeaux, France, the Chateau du Sales Pomerol 1998 glistened in a decanter, waiting for the grilling to begin. In only four minutes, the fish and the meat would top a plate of black japonica rice and cashews seasoned with Chinese five-star spice, along with purple cabbage and fresh ginger seared in sesame oil. Grated carrots topped it all off for an explosion of color.
The flavors immediately exploded as one would expect. The grilled, deep, smoky aroma and taste of the tuna — rich, sweet and spicy — and lingering notes of nutty sesame made the perfect template on the palate for the ultra-vibrant rosé, which highlighted and elevated all of the flavors in each bite of tuna, and the remaining drops of sauce licked up while downing this wine were over the top.
The Pomerol, in turn, was back boned yet lush, and mushroom-like, before it gave way to a trademark smoky, tar-like and astringent finish. The meat was cooked to perfection— a light dusting of garlic powder elevated the sweet center of the meat’s flavor-and the merlot hit this same sweet spot. By this time all of the flavors — from the lavender of the rosé, and the horseradish mustard of the tuna, to the earthiness of the filet-were lavishly laid out on the palate — swirled around by the wine.
And such an odd pairing of wines together. It was as if the red headed cabbage patch kid met the French maid who drinks rosé during the day and secretly enjoys Bordeaux all through the night. I wonder, does this signal a trip to Pomerol? All this from the first meal of the year. I will drink to that.
Cheers! Remember, wine reveals truth.
Drew Stofflet lives in Carbondale. Correspond with him at email@example.com.