When bringing a bottle of wine to a restaurant, what wine should you choose? We recently went to dinner with some friends of ours and wanted to bring a bottle of wine. To choose the bottle, we considered
– how much our friends appreciate and drink wine
– did we have a bottle with a story behind it
– what is the cuisine at the restaurant
For the first, our friends are not big wine drinkers, but they do appreciate a nice bottle. For the second question, most of the bottles in our cellar have some sort of story behind them. And for the third, we were going to Café Esin, near to us in Danville, and their style is Mediterranean. Given that information, a Pinot Noir seemed like the right choice, so we pulled out a 2006 Enkidu Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Tina Marie Vineyard.
We also checked that the restaurant didn’t have this wine on its wine list.
Pinot Noir is nice because it will match well with almost anything except the lightest fish and heavy steaks. In this case, two of us did get fish, and the other two ordered chicken. One of the fish dishes was salmon, which is a classical pairing for Pinot Noir. The other fish dish was yellowtail, a member of the tuna family, but not nearly as big as Ahi in flavor. However, the dish on this night was served with vegetables and chanterelle mushrooms in a broth, and the Pinot Noir went great with that. In this case, the fish was there for texture, with the vegetable-chanterelle broth providing the flavor. (Delicious, in case you were curious.)
The story behind the wine: In 2008, at the inaugural Wine Bloggers Conference, we met Phillip Staehle, Enkidu winemaker and owner, at a Syrah tasting held at Kick Ranch Vineyard. In a clearing in the vineyard were around 10 tables, one for each winery that made Syrah from Kick Ranch grapes. It was a great way to understand what the individual winemakers were doing with quite similar grapes. The Enkidu Kick Ranch Syrah was one of our top two wines at that event. So a year later, while wine tasting with some friends, we took them to the then newly opened Enkidu tasting room in Kenwood in Sonoma Valley. We enjoyed the wines again, enjoyed their tasting room, and came away from the tasting with some of their “Humbaba” Rhone blend, as well as the Pinot Noir. Now we’ve drunk the last bottle in the wine cellar; time to go back! Of course, the other part of the story is the name of the winery, “Enkidu”. A memorable name, especially once you’ve read the story behind the name. I can’t really do it justice, but I suggest going and reading up starting on the Enkidu website.