Friends happen in the strangest ways. When I was in elementary school, I remember my father telling me that, "Someday, some of your good friends, met later in life, will be the parents of your children's school friends too." I did not catch his allusion and questioned him on what this meant. He simply explained by naming some of my school chums and their parents who he and my mom were friends with at the time.
Of course he was right and now my wife and I experience the same dynamic and have met many people through our daughter's school mates. Last Saturday night, one couple who we've grown close to over the past 4 years (since pre-school) came over for a casual wine dinner. They are enjoying learning about wine, and both seem to really take interest and definitely know what they like. Better still, I've yet to see them not enjoy any of the wines we've consumed together, whether casual quaffers like this particular evening or more serious wines that we also drink when we're together.
It was a wonderfully sunny Saturday and the first weekend above 65 degrees this year in our neck of the woods. So I chilled down the whites and decanted the reds and a Ruby Reserve Port. We hung out on our deck, which sits high above a steeply sloping yard and looks at a stand of Douglas Fir, old growth Cedars, a plum tree and a quickly disappearing lake view. It was the perfect temperature for al fresco dining and we love to entertain in an unhurried fashion when the weather permits, and here, that is usually a small window of opportunity, which typically lasts only 8-12 weeks a year.
My daughter and her (BFF) friend Lidya always play well together, and the adults were able to sit back and chat about the other couple's recent trip to Monaco and Paris which sounded like a fantastic getaway. We munched on an assortment of cheese and olives along with our first wine of the night, which was Ouro Verde, a decent selection from the Vinho Verde DOC. Bottled by Caves de Cerça in Amarante, a popular spot in Northern Portugal up in the Minho. My wife and the other couple really liked this a lot, I thought it was pleasant and serviceable with the aps but have had lots of better versions. Refreshing, with a bit-too-tart pear and lime citrus flavor which showed nicely, but it seemed to me to have been over acidulated. Nevertheless, nothing that the lactic nature of the cheese couldn't cure.
Time for the next course, I headed into the kitchen to prepare a simple but tasty mezzaluna dish, in this case, my version of a Caprese salad incorporated into an EVO pan-fried quesadilla. Quick and delish. The accompaniment was a n/v Santa Margherita Brut Prosecco di Valdobbiandene. Santa Margherita? Jeez, I've had dozens bottles of their Pinot Grigio's over the years. In fact, we probably had it a half dozen times during our honeymoon in Italy, a decade ago. At 11.5% alcohol, it is very easy to enjoy Prosecco and not feel the effects of the alcohol and it is extremely food friendly. This bottling hailed from Valdobbiadene, just NE of Venice in arguably the best area for Prosecco production. Like the Pinot Grigio from this producer, it certainly wasn't profound, but it was a tasty wine that went very well with the mezzaluna. What more can you ask of an under $20 bottle of young bubbly?
Time to light the charcoal on "old faithful" my 25 year old Weber char-grill, as I had already prepped up the Baby Back Ribs and slowly roasted them at a low temp, in the oven to sear in the juices before getting a little bit of a char on the outside, adding some added zestiness to the BBQ sauce. I had opted for two bottles of 2006 Quinta do Crasto Old Vines Reserva and after making sure they were sound, put them both into a magnum decanter for three hours, before our guests had arrived. I wanted to see how they'd hold up against a tangy BBQ sauce on the pork ribs. Actually, the pairing worked even better than I had expected. Typically, I'll open something Grenache, Syrah or Zinfandel-based to accomplish my mission. But the 2006 Crasto was singing and the spicy, deeply concentrated essence of this fine young Douro wine, was scrumptious before the ribs were ready, but even better in unison with them. No easy feat.
I learned of a new pairing, which is always good since my daughter seems "possessed" when it comes to gobbling my Baby Back ribs; so we have this dish about 1x per month, year round. Corn on the cob is always a safe bet and we got a real kick out of seeing the faces of these two sweet young girls in their thick brown BBQ-sauce masks. We were too stuffed to have dessert, but I had splash decanted a bottle of Graham's Six Grapes and on this beautifully warm evening, it proved to be just rich and grapy enough to win the hearts and minds of our guests. It was getting late as it was past our kid's bed times, so we finished off our glasses of Graham's and called it a night. Summer is less than a week away and I look forward to many more laid-back nights just like this.