We’ve made a pretty big deal of Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) in recent years. Last year, for instance, it turned into quite a wine and food affair. See last year’s OTBN post for more on the 2010 festivities and background on this event, the brainchild of wine columnists Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher.
Well, this year we actually recognized OTBN a night early, and in fairly low-key fashion. I’m just finally emerging from a fight with a nasty cold, and just starting to feel ready to enjoy wine and cooking again. So we hadn’t made any big plans for tonight, but I did have my eye on a few possible bottles to open.
But then last night I did summon the energy to make some Portuguese Kale & Chorizo soup, mostly following this recipe. One noteworthy change I made to the recipe was to use only 1/2 the sausage. There were still plenty for our taste; I can’t really imagine the full pound both in terms of amount of meat and the kick they give. I also used kidney beans instead of chickpeas.
Our wine supply was a little low, so there were limited options. I tweeted for suggestions, mentioning 3 or 4 options. Well, my one reply was from Lynn Sherwood of Wine, Not Whine suggested the Carmenere to pick up the spice element in the soup–and I thought that was a good call. It so happened we had a pretty special bottle of Carmenere waiting in the wings–the 2006 Reininger Carmenere($30) from the Seven Hills Vineyard in Walla Walla Valley. So I made the call right there–Friday, not Saturday, would be OTBN in our house that night!
What’s special about the this Carmenere? Well, for starters it’s made in very small amounts; in fact, Pairings is the only place that carries it in Massachusetts–and the little bit they get their hands on goes quickly! It’s also pretty interesting trying a Carmenere from Walla Walla; as previously I’ve only had it from Chile. But it’s really the complex flavor profile; black pepper spice is most notable but it also has a rich dusky fruit that makes for a long and interesting finish. All in all, a very OTBN worthy wine!
Now, one more note on the evening. Though I enjoyed the wine a great deal, I’d say in retrospect it was a workable, but not optimal pairing for the soup (but probably as good as I had on hand!). Simply put, I’d say this wine is just a bit big for soup; something with lighter body but the same spice would have been ideal. The Carmenere is probably best suited for pork or beef (with Chimichurri perhaps); or Ray from Pairings suggested blackened tuna. Some things to try!