Summer is here. Memorial Day has come and gone (here in the U.S.) and therefore it’s time to celebrate the arrival of those fabulous cat days. Long, hot afternoons and slow Southern nights. Frogs croaking during those quick summer showers and birds signaling the start of every new day with a chorus of happy song. It’s a fabulous time to be a cat.
Like most humans, our wait staff chose to celebrate the arrival of summer with a gaggle of their fellow humans. Despite the threat of rainy weather, grills were brought out of hibernation, chairs and tables were set up in long-ignored backyards and the smell of cooking meat permeated the air for days. Our wait staff shared their time and cooking efforts with nearby neighbors gathered around the community pool.
Now, we are not very fond of the pool. It’s wet and attracts small children who insist on splashing water everywhere. Generally, if we do venture over the fence, the pool is a place we avoid. But the sound of sizzling grills and wine flowing forth from bottles convinced us that some action near the pool might be necessary. With Fuzzums serving as a distraction and a bit of stealthy reconnoitering by Mysterious, we were able to find a suitable spot for doing a bit of our own imbibing with little threat from grubby hands.
We must admit that we were quite impressed with the humans and their wine selections on this go around. Rather than the usual mundane choice of white or red, someone actually made an effort to coordinate the wine selection with the various portions of the meal. And what a difference it made! Even the humans were suitably impressed with how well everything tied together. There may be hope for them yet.
The fun started from the first course – not exactly appetizers or strictly anti pasta but a weird but yummy combination. Cured meats, tasty cheeses, hummus, chips and salsa, some green vegetable thing we refused to eat…all matched with a sparkling red from Italy. The Settefilari from Tenuta di Aljano to be exact. This is the perfect wine for a bit of charcuterie – it’s plums and cherries and just a hint of really dark chocolate. The bubbles are surprisingly soft so you can really enjoy the mix of smokiness from the meat with the red fruit in the wine. To be honest, we would have been perfectly happy if we had spent the rest of the day sipping this little known Italian and nibbling on a bit of fine salami.
But it was time to move on the main course, which some of the neighbors had spent days preparing. And while there were lesser things such as hot dogs and hamburgers for the children, what most of the humans had been drooling over since the first plans of a Memorial Day party were hatched was the bar-b-que. Ribs, brisket – anything that could be slow-cooked and drizzled in a hundred different secret sauce recipes. This was what had filled the air with that delicious aroma for so long and when the moment arrived, there was definitely a collective “ahhhh” sound.
The sommelier for the party had a difficult task. With all those different types of bar-b-que, it was going to be tricky to find something that worked with all of them. The meats ran the gamut from traditional bourbon style to sizzling Korean. The solution? A lovely French Rose by the name of Notorious Pink. This is a very traditional French style rose made with Grenache. That means something tart and citrusy rather than big and fruity. Since most of the bbq had at least some sweetness, the Notorious Pink proved an excellent match. It’s tart flavor helped clear the mouth between bites and left you drooling and ready to sample the next batch. It’s also very bright, so while it stands up well to just about anything, it’s also good for just sipping. Something that tends to occur as stomachs start to fill up.
At last, it was time for the final round – dessert. There were cakes and pies and an uncountable variety of cookies, not to mention more cheese and nuts for those who suddenly remembered they were still on a diet. Our sommelier did not disappoint, and while the earlier wines were (admittedly) not made in the U.S.A., there was a show of patriotism with our third selection – an ice wine Riesling from New York’s Sheldrake Point winery. Yes, it’s sweet, which would seem like too much sugar with all the desserts on display, but it’s also crisp and sharp. You can taste that chill from the first bit of frost and it melds well with that apple pie or that gooey chocolate concoction. And for those who prefer dessert in liquid form, it was the perfect way to end the meal.
Ah, summer. Here we are, one day later and we’ve barely been able to move from the back of the sofa. So much food and good wine – but then, that is the epitome of summer after all.