Wine Lovers Weekend in the Kitchen With Cotes-du-Rhone

Sommelier Jodi Fritch
Sommelier Jodi Fritch

There is something wonderful about sharing a meal and wine with close friends and family that is like no other experience in the world.  This experience for me is amplified, when the food is prepared at home.

It often occurs to me that I may not be normal.  When I am planning to have people over, I get really into it.  For me this is more than just a passion, this is full blown obsession.  Planning all of the courses (there are usually three to four), making sure that each course makes sense in the scheme of the whole meal.  Sometimes its about the wine and I plan that part first, and sometimes its about the food.  This weekend was a great weekend for cooking.  One of those weekends in which everything turned out perfectly.  Although we cooked several different dishes this weekend, we served the same wine all weekend and it was a great match.

My passion for wine is based on the shared experience of pairing wine and food with friends.  This weekend we were lucky enough to stumble on to a great value Cotes-du-Rhone at my local wine store.  We purchased this wine (a lot of this wine over the weekend) at the incredible price of $4.99.  I approached this wine with caution, fully expecting to have to stick the cork back in it and return it to its retail home of origin.  The great thing about wines at this price point when you are lucky enough to find them, is that you expect nothing.  If the wine is drinkable at all (and this one was), it is almost impossible for it to under-deliver. I realize that with three years on the bottle, the reason why it was on sale–potentially past its prime.  Would we have rescued it in time?  Good with Roast Chicken on Thursday, Good with Mushroom Pasta on Friday night, and I think perhaps the best with Breaded Pork Chops and Sage Cream Gravy on Saturday night.  Success!

I found this experience useful in reminding me that it is easier to match wine with food than many people think.  I believe that there are some matches that are better, but overall it’s pretty easy and nothing that should intimidate anyone.  It also reminded me that I have a sort of rustic style to my cooking that makes a wine like Cotes-du-Rhone a great match for many of the dishes that we enjoy at home.

I have enjoyed wines from the Rhone (as well as Rhone style wines from the New World) for quite some time.  I would have to say that this affair with Cotes-du-Rhone wines was love at first sip for me.  The red wines labeled Cotes-du-Rhone are made for early consumption.  Typically, they are bursting with red and dark fruit flavors and aromas and are very light on tannin.  This makes them generally pretty easy drinking and a nice pairing for a variety of foods.  If you prefer a fuller bodied wine, search for a Cotes-du-Rhone Village, or perhaps a Cotes du Luberon or Cotes du Ventoux (sub-appellations of Cotes-du-Rhone).

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