(Editor’s note: Somehow this never got posted even though the author was certain he hit “publish.” What a schlemiel.)
Weeknight: At the “real CIA,” which is what the Culinary Institute of America calls itself since it’s older than the spy house, the wine classes include students taking a big whiff of lychee in a glass and intoning “lychee, lychee, lychee” before sipping a gewürztraminer. That way, they latch onto the association, hopefully in perpetuity. There’s a lot of lychee (and maybe some kiwi) in the delightful 2013 Pacific Rim Yakima Valley Gewürztraminer ($12), a lush but sharp-edged Washington white with spot-on balance and surpassing length. Almost any Thai, Vietnamese or Indian dish should work with this floral beauty. Which calls for the worldly — and otherworldly — warbling of Lisa Gerrard (those who don’t know her name will recognize the voice from countless movie soundtracks).
Occasion: I’m rather tired of the contretemps over pinot noir and its various iterations. While I don’t want to wonder if there’s syrah in the bottle, bright, ripe expressions can be worthy, too, not to mention provide consumers with an array of style choices. The 2012 MacPhail Wightman House Pinot Noir ($55) has a massive nose, a bit of smoke and chocolate on the palate and a voluptuous texture, but it’s pinot noir through and through. Black cherry, forest floor and a rustic but silky finish make it so. Roasted or smoked fowl are perfect companions to this Anderson Valley gem, as are root veggies and mushroom-laden dishes. The exuberant, racy-for-their-time tunes of Louis Jordan enhance the occasion mightily.