A.B.C. That was the acronym that so many of my friends and I adhered to for a long time. Anything But Chardonnay. The popularity, the overabundance of inferior wine and the ever widening gap between truly good chardonnay and what was passed off in most stores and restaurants made me pursue other white wine paths. And I am so happy that I did.
White wine grapes are grown in every wine growing region. By eschewing the now ubiquitous white wine I have discovered a world of interesting and flavorful wines. Italy is full of Italian white varieties, not just the pale and often poorly presented Pinot Grigio. Each region in Italy has there featured white grape. It’s important to recognize the region as well as the grape when choosing an Italian white. They often grow the same grape with entirely different results. For instance, one of our favorites is a vermentino from from Sardinia. The volcanic, mountainous terrain makes for an earthy, sinewy white, completely different than the vermentino famous in Tuscany. Here is a good site for learning more about Italian varietals.
Even if you love chardonnay (which I do), swearing off of it for a while leads you to the discovery of some wonderful alternatives. Because of chardonnay’s popularity, many other whites have had a hard time making their way into the mass market. You need to seek them out, find a good wine store or a restaurant that is adventurous.Our local wine area (Santa Barbara) and up through the central coast, specialize in Rhone varietals. Most people are not familiar with the white grapes from the Rhone river valley in France. Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne are all fantastic white wines. They are often bottled as single varietals (not blended) and have a purity and natural flavor and aroma not found in blends. They all tend to be a bit fruit forward but completely dry (not sweet). They complement a large variety of food and because they are now grown in California as well as France, they have become widely available. Keep your eye out for them. You will not be sorry.
In that vein, was it Oscar Wilde that said: “I prefer my grapes trounced upon and fermented”?
- Chicken Breasts, Thighs and Legs from one chicken
- Bunch Seedless Grapes
- White Wine
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Chef’s Knife
- Ovenproof Dish (Pyrex is perfect)
- Pre-heat the oven to 325.
- Wash and pat dry the chicken pieces.
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper each piece.
- Arrange (skin side down if broiling) in dish.
- Pick the rosemary from the stems and sprinkle all over. (about two tablespoons)
- Pour just a splash of white wine in the bottom. The grapes will liquify.
- Arrange grapes over top of the chicken, removing the largest stems.
- Roast for about 1 hour. If you have a reliable broiler, this dish also can be broiled.
- About half way through turn the chicken.
- The grapes with the rosemary and wine will make a wonderful sauce. I pour it right out of the dish, but if you would like to get fancy you can strain and reduce by half. Correct the seasonings.