Light Winter Salad and New Mexico Wine

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This week’s bottle definitely is a special one. Not necessarily for its taste but rather for its provenance, New Mexico. Although this is the oldest wine growing region in the United States, few people know about it and New Mexican wines are quite rare on the east coast. Gruet, probably the most famous winery in New Mexico, is known primarily for its sparkling wines.   But our local shop recently started carrying their Pinot Noir, which we picked up about one month ago and had been eyeing on our shelf ever since.

In the end, it’s a good thing we waited. You see, this past weekend has been a bit tough. We’re not 20 anymore but somehow, when we spend time with our siblings, we seem to forget that. This usually leads to extremely pleasant weekends where we consume huge amounts of wonderful wines, great beers, amazing cheeses and plenty of home cooked meals. This past weekend was one of those and we knew from the start that our Sunday night dinner would be very light.

We had stocked up on escarole and put together a winter salad of roasted butternut squash, dried pomegranate seeds and smoked pork tenderloin to pair with the 2007 Gruet Pinot Noir.   We hoped for a light but comforting wine for a light, feel-good meal. We made up the recipe but loosely based ours on Not Eating out in New York’s Tuscan Kale Salad (although we dropped the mustard dressing) and threw in roasted butternut squash based on Heidi’s Farro and Roasted Butternut Squash recipe.

Very light in color, the wine boasts a light, cranberry fruitiness with a strong presence of oak coming through. It is relatively short and simple in the mouth, but a very pleasant and palate-friendly taste. Although it is a very one-dimensional wine (no earthiness or minerality to speak of), it was absolutely perfect for a detox style meal.

The last few wines we’ve shared here truly shined when paired with food, which is often typical of European wines. Gruet’s Pinot is good in a completely different way. It is what we would call a porch wine: just open the bottle, pour a glass… sip… enjoy… repeat.   We also thought it would be a perfect picnic wine – light and refreshing.   Particularly on a warm summer day just as the sun is slipping below the horizon.   Don’t despair, it’s only a few months away!

Although simple, this is definitely a crowd pleaser and while the wine geeks will enjoy the novelty of drinking a Pinot Noir from New Mexico, the amateurs will be charmed by its purity of fruit and fantastic drinkability. The only issue? Its price.

2007 Gruet Pinot Noir | $24 at Dandelion Wines, 153 Franklin Street, Brooklyn

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