The Death Whisperer Series

The Death Whisperer Series
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Wines for spicy foods from San Francisco

All right. Last night in San Francisco and I’ve got two more wines and a fantastic Indian restaurant for you.

The first is a Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon; $18.00. Floral, but complex nose. Flavors of blackberry, spicy fruit, peppercorns and coffee. Tannins and acidity were mild. It was good but not terribly remarkable for my tastes.

Next, the restaurant: Amber. It’s an Indian restaurant behind the Marriott off Market Street. My dinner started with spinach and feta kulcha, a nan or bread cooked in a Tandoor oven and stuffed with chopped spinach and feta cheese. Dinner was Goan spicy scallops. Six enormous scallops were spiced, grilled, and served with a spicy sauce. It came with Indian spiced rice containing carrots, peas, and corn. It was fantastic!

Now, to stand up to the spices, I needed a wine with strength so I ordered a Domaine Gouran Chinon Loire Cabernet Franc, somewhere between $18.00 and $24.00. Cabernet Franc’s are a conundrum. They are thought of as the “other” cabernet, often ignored as a result. Yet from my point of view, they can be very drinkable, especially those that are from the middle of the Loire region where it really shines. The cabernet francs are under-rated by those who like big, fat, oaky reds that are heavy on the alcohol. Yet because of their underdog status, the French versions can be real bargains. The red wines of Saumur, Saumur-Champigny, Chinon, Bourgueil and St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil are almost exclusively Cabernet Franc.

This one had a voluptuous nose of wild flowers, cranberry, black currants and earth with distinct spicy overtones. It burst on the palate with cherry, cranberry, and a hint of smokiness. It stood up perfectly to the spicy food, cutting through the richness. In spite of the cold and rain, San Francisco was definitely good for wine.


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