What Wine with Your Fish Stories?

Just what I needed, a little Napa sunshine! It was 62 degrees in mid January when I went to look at the wine list at The Fish Story, a restaurant in the new RiverFront development off Third Street in downtown Napa. In Tahoe: 20 degrees. In San Francisco: 45 degrees. This excursion was a no-brainer.

Fish fish fish fish fish! What wine to drink with fish? Fried, cooked and cold, roasted. Each preparation pairs well with different wines, and there is a reason for that. But first, a word about The Fish Story. It is charming to walk into a restaurant that displays customer’s fish stories with their photos. This is not for the faint of heart or those who talk about the one-the-got-away. (Are we talking about dates or fish?) I was awed by the big fish and manly men who can actually write an anecdote. Come’on ladies, let’s get your fish stories up there! Also, I like the fact that this restaurant sources all its seafood in accordance with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guidelines. “We are committed to the healthy future of the oceans and the seafood it provides us,” noted restauranteur Michael Dellar.

In light of that, we sought a Monterey Bay menu offering, and chose the Fried Calamari from Monterey Bay, served with red pepper strips, lemon slides and a roasted tomato aioli. The perfect pairing was a 2009 Gruner Veltliner from Familie Bauer, Juche, Austria. This crisp wine was positively mouth-watering, with an acidity that’s almost a bit biting and citric, and it certainly enhanced the fried food. Gruner Veltliner has been called the national grape of Austria, and although it often is bottled in tall almost cone-shaped bottles similar to those used for Rieslings or Gew├╝rztraminers, it is very different. It’s naturally sweet and a nice pale blonde color, but with a bit of spice. 12% alcohol, $8/glass and $29/bottle.

Also with the fried calamari, French Chablis was terrific. We choose the 2008 Jean Marc Brochard Domaine Sainte Claire, a Rhone wine. Rhone wines typically do well with spice foods. This Chablis had an aroma and taste of white flower at the beginning, and as it warmed up, the minerality that goes so well with fried foods emerged. 12.5% alcohol, $10/glass, $39/bottle.

It was that fresh Dungeness Crab time of year, and topping a Louie salad, the perfect cold crab pieces just cried out for a California wine pairing. The inexpensive 2009 Saintsbury Chardonnay, Carneros, was both a budget-pleaser and perfectly acceptable. The flavors are classic Chardonnay, with a good structure and palate-feel. Citrus and pear tastes focus in the mid-palate, and it has a long crisp finish. In wine-food pairing, it’s often a sure bet to choose a wine from the same region as the food is sourced, and so a Carneros chardonnay is sensible. Chardonnay is one of the grapes that reflects its terroir of origin quite well. Crab from California, wine from California. This unfiltered wine sports 13.5% alcohol. $7.75 /glass, $32/bottle.

A pan roasted Alaska Black Cod calls for quite a different wine, and here again we turn to Rhone varietals. The 2007 Krupp Brothers “Black Bart” Marsanne from the Stagecoach Vineyard in Napa presented with the petroleum aroma and taste that is characteristic of Marsanne and lovely with a pan-roasted fish preparation The winemaker notes aromas of orange pith, key lime pie, white peach, stone fruits, nut, spice, and a spine of minerality. Delicious. 14% alcohol, $11/glass, $42/bottle.

When you are interested in good seafood, try the Fish Story Restaurant at Napa Riverfront, located at 790 Main Street in Napa. For hours and reservations, phone (707) 251-5600.

© 2011 Barbara Keck
For more information on dining and the wide range of activities around Lake Tahoe, see the online version of The Tahoe Weekly. This article appeared in my column "It's Grape" in January 2011.
Book in Process: " Pioneering Winemakers of the Sierra and Its Foothills".

1 comment:

  1. A semi-sparkling wine with about half the carbonation of a typical sparkling wine, Moscato d’Asti is light and crisp and relatively low in alcohol, about 5 to 7 percent. I love that