Exploring Cab Franc
I went to a fabulous wine tasting at my friend Johann’s on Tuesday night. Johann is a former co-worker who wants to learn more about wine, so the night was as educational as it was fun. All the attendees had to bring a bottle of Cabernet Franc or a food that would pair well. I made gazpacho. We also ate a rice dish with tomato sauce and beef, walnuts, almonds, beef bacon, fresh green olives, dolma, pears, bleu cheese, crackers, coconut macaroons, and chili-infused dark chocolate.
The purpose of our dinner was to learn about Cab Franc, find similarities and differences between varieties, and see which foods paired well, or didn’t, and why. It was exciting to do such an intense study of Cab Franc, a grape which usually fills out other wines but rarely stands on its own. Maybe Cab Franc will soon be the new hip wine to try!
Because we were conducting such a scientific experiment, we had to drink the wine in a very special way. First, we inhaled, wafted, smelled. We swirled the wine to oxygenate it. Inhaled again. Before taking a sip, we first had to take a slurp, drinking in that noisy way every parent of young children knows and despises. By sucking in air through our teeth as we drank, we oxygenated the wine further and continued expanding its flavor. Not until after all of that rigmarole could we finally…just…drink.
The results of our little wine experiment were so interesting. The first bottle we drank, a 2007 Cab Franc from the Vine Yard in Columbia Valley, Washington, was my favorite. I am generally not a fan of red wine (barring gas station sangria…yum!) because I find it to be too dry, too strong, and too tannic. Not the case for this bottle! I think it was on the less expensive side and would maybe seem watery to more experienced drinkers of red, but it was perfect for me.
This wine went very well with fresh green olives and with my gazpacho. Later on, we ate some delicious, flavor-packed coconut macaroons, but their flavor was much too strong for this Cab Franc and made it taste very dry and bitter.
Our next wine was a 2008 Cab Franc from Jones of Washington. This bottle was much heavier and was a little strong for me. However, it paired perfectly with the beef bacon and actually brought out the spice in my gazpacho and Johann’s rice dish, while the first wine did not. If I were to drink this wine again, I would want to enjoy it with some juicy spicy meat!
Unlike our first two wines that were sourced locally from Washington state, the third bottle, courtesy of Johann, came all the way from France! This 2009 Domaine du Grand Bouqueteau Chino paired perfectly with, well, pear! It brought out the flavor and sweetness of the pear perfectly, allowing me to taste things I had never noticed before. However, the wine had some fungal notes, which contrasted horribly with the bleu cheese. The wine and cheese brought out the worst in each other; both tasted rotten when paired together.
This definitely underlines the importance of having a knowledgable sommelier. There are so many discrepancies within just one type of wine, and different wines definitely enhance or detract from different flavors. You don’t want to try to enjoy a big steak with a light dessert wine! Luckily, you can throw your own fun wine-tasting potluck to slowly and deliciously expand your palate.
Next up, Pinot Grigio. Hooray for whites!