From the Vine on Food & Wine Pairing

From the Vine, my wine column in the Santa Maria Times & Lompoc Record was published today, November 19, 2017
I love the fall and winter holiday season for the opportunities to write some food and wine pairing columns. While I used to create my own list of suggestions, I now love asking local winemakers most of whom are also excellent cooks, to get tips on what to pair with their wines. That way you can head right over to their tasting rooms just days before the holiday, and pick out the perfect wine for your holiday dinner parties.

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I called on three (among many) of my favorite local brands, Tercero in Los Olivos, Baker & Brain in Los Osos, and Stephen Ross in San Luis Obispo, which yielded much good advice to share with you. You can read my latest column this excellent advice for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and your New Year’s celebrations and dinners at this free site:

Because of limits in the size of my column, I wasn’t able to get every detail into the story that I wanted to supply. Nevertheless, that benefits you, dear readers, because I use this space to add “the rest of the story.” When I called on the articulate Larry Schaffer, winemaker and brain behind the Tercero brand, he provided a great personal story that I am sharing here, where only you can read it:

Tercero 2017

“When I was a student at UC Davis, on my way to getting my Master’s Degree in Viticulture and Enology, about a dozen of us decided to get together and have a ‘mock-Thanksgiving’ to try to find the ‘perfect’ wine to pair with a variety of Thanksgiving foods. It was definitely the perfect ‘trial and error’ situation, and for us the consensus was that an Italian dry moscato that someone brought just seemed to work best across the stuffing, cranberry sauce and turkey that day. Was it ‘perfect?’ Nope – but I don’t believe there is a ‘perfect’ pairing – it’s all dependent upon your palate. But that dry moscato certainly changed my opinions – and definitely inspired me to try and ‘succeed’ with my The Outlier, my dryish Gewürztraminer, as a great wine to share on the table this day.”


I certainly bought his recent vintage of The Outlier, and agree it will play a prime role on our holiday dinner table settings. With that educational story, I couldn’t resist sharing one more of his contributions:


“We are oftentimes invited these days to share Thanksgiving with my brothers – I have 4 of them – and their families, along with my parents and my children. One of my brothers and his French-born wife love to cook, and I am happy to play a ‘supporting’ role. I am oftentimes asked to bake bread – something I do a bit of – and make dessert, something I love to tinker around with. A few years back, my brother wanted to start the meal off with Gorgonzola and Figs, so I made a whole wheat walnut bread from scratch – and it was a hit, especially when poured with my Mourvedre Rose. I then made a salted flourless chocolate cake with I paired with my grenache-dominated red blend, Verbiage Rouge, and everyone seemed to rave about it.”

Such great tips from Larry, and I guarantee you will find him quite friendly should you be lucky enough to find this exuberant winemaker in the tasting room (his busy work and family life doesn’t allow him the time to be there on a daily basis) when you visit. But he always has his friendly staff people taking good care of their guests. It’s the same at all of these great small artisan brands, the people are downright glad you’ve chosen to visit them. And I promise that once you’ve tried their excellent wines, you’ll be a believer just like us and return often to stock up.

To make it easier to find them, I’m providing links to their webpages so you can learn more about them, their hours, or even buy the wine online. Believe me, when you find small production, high quality producers like these brands, you quickly learn their wines don’t stay on the shelves very long at all!


We at Central Coast Critic wish you all a glorious Thanksgiving Day filled with awesome tastes of great food and wine!



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