One of my favorite things to do during the summer time is grab a huge bag of padron peppers, marinate them in olive oil, then fry 'em up in a pan and dash them with kosher salt. I think I could eat hundreds of them in that format, just continuously lifting them towards my mouth—one by one—and biting into that green bit of savoriness.
But once I start doing that I'm going to need something cold and refreshing. Like the new 2014 Alkoomi Frankland River riesling from Western Australia. This wine is a like cold, crisp dream of fresh acidity and steely minerality, but with a core of ripe stone fruit that haunts you from within. Like the peppers, I think I could probably drink hundreds of bottles of this wine.
Plus, it pairs with just about anything. Spinach tortellini? Why not. Just about anything works with dry riesling.
For the beef course, I decided to keep the "down under" theme going and reached for the new 2013 Te Mata "Awatea" Bordeaux Blend from New Zealand. I didn't do much decanting, but it didn't matter. The wine is so tasty right from the bottle. I did mention to my parents, however: "It's only going to taste better tomorrow, so you two might be fighting over who gets what's left in the bottle." With subtle hints of dark fruit, plush tannins, and soft layers of richness, the 2013 Awatea is an understated wine, but one that brings a diminutive and delicious pairing for basic dishes like steak and vegetables. I'll probably buy at least a half-case of this before we run out. It'll hold up over the next decade and only get better with time.
The great wines from Australia and New Zealand are so underpriced right now it's insane. They're where Bourbon was in 2006—the quality and availability are at an all time high, but the prices are still relatively quite low. I love that we're getting in on the ground floor here, pounding bottles of amazing quality one after the other like it's no big deal. It's exciting and reminiscent of the old days of liquor!
Speaking of liquor, my family is still old school when it comes to the after-dinner course: grappa and coffee will always rule the post-meal protocol. Our most-popular (and best, in my opinion) Tuscan producer—Sesta de Sopra—makes a straight sangiovese grappa, and a second one that sees a bit of barrel maturation. Neither are sold in the U.S. at the moment, but much like we did with their Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello wines, we'll be fixing that problem very shortly. Watch for these lovely little bottles before the end of the year. Just because no one else is drinking grappa doesn't mean that I'm going to starve! I'll drink it all myself if I have to!