This week my husband made a delicious meal of chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. He used Richard Olney’s recipe from Simple French Food and our new earthenware pot. earthenwarechickenThe olive oily broth and roasted garlic smeared onto the baguette were as delicious as the juicy and delicious chicken itself. We had the 2005 Filliatreau “La Grand Vignolle” Saumur-Champigny with the meal and I found the pairing to be perfect. The food really made the wine come alive (we hadn’t been particularly enjoying it as an aperitif before we sat down to the table). It smelled of earth and funk and rose-scented make-up (something I often pick up in Cab Franc from the Loire), and each sip was so refreshing.

There is something about Cabernet Franc and chicken…or is it Loire reds and chicken? In New York we had a habit of picking up a rotisserie chicken from Choice Market in Clinton Hill and eating it with Sancerre Rouge or Loire Gamay. Something about how chicken is sort of light, but still complex tasting, and how Loire reds are light, but aromatically complex make such a pairing a successful one!

Olney’s cookbook is a bit daunting for my kitchen stylings (e.g. easy, simple), but my husband has great success with it. It is included in the current issue of Art of Eating’s list of indispensable cookbooks. We are looking forward to working with more of the books on the list, starting with Guiliano Bugialli’s book of Neopolitan cookery! Arthur Schwartz‘s Naples at Table is akin to a bible in our house…almost every dish has become comfort food favorite, so it will be interesting to see how Bugialli competes with the Food Maven!

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I have a strong memory of a wine I’m afraid I’ll never have again. It was a bom vinho da casa served in a churrasqueira in Peso da Regua, in the Douro region of Portugal. In a locals’ restaurant with no written menu we let the hostess choose our meal — grilled chicken with piri-piri sauce, onions, salad, rice and potatoes — and wine. She really pushed the bom vinho, and I’m glad she did. It arrived extremely chilled in an unmarked bottle sans cork and smelled like white port without the brandy. It had a tangy apple-y aroma, and a wild character. Unfiltered, it had an extraordinary amount of flavor and sediment — the sediment was something I enjoyed, but would no doubt be an unwelcome presence for most white wine drinkers. The wine was an excellent match for the warm day and highly flavorful chicken.

I intend to use this blog as a forum in which to discuss real wines like this, full of character and interest. I reject the high alcohol, low acid, clean and fruity, “international” wines made from the same 5 grape varieties. Give me Pineau d’Aunis! Trousseau! Romorantin! Prié Blanc! Grapes from climates that produce lower alcohol wines with lots of acidity, and interesting savory and mineral qualities in addition to fruit. Wines that smell great and encourage you to finish the bottle with dinner. I’ll also talk about food, travel, and general activities and how they pertain to these sorts of delightful wines.

I’ll leave you with a view of the terraced vineyards of Peso da Regua:

Terraced vineyards of Peso da Regua