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Polish Comfort Food and Sauvignon Blanc

Wine & Wonder, Robin Shreeves - October 22, 2017

I spent last weekend laughing my ass off with three wonderful friends - Cheri, Lisa and Dina. I met them at summer camp when I was in high school, more than just a couple of years ago at this point. Now, we get together at least once a year to eat good food, drink good wine, enjoy the outdoors, and play card games that leave us in tears of laughter till late at night.

My friends all grew up in the Poconos where a large Polish population lives. Dishes like homemade pierogies and haluski were common in their homes (but definitely in mine). They decided to put these foods on the menu for one of our weekend meals. And I decided to do what I do best in these situations. I brought the wine.

Research led me to choosing Sauvignon Blanc, based on a recommendation from DeliPair. Put a link to a recipe in the website's search bar, and it suggests a wine based on the ingredients. The website suggested a Sauv Blanc from either Chile or New Zealand to complement the cabbage, butter, and spices in the food.

I had a bottle of Mt. Beautiful 2016 Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand sitting on my wine rack so I added that to the other wines I chose to take for the weekend, and off I went.

Lisa was mid-dumpling making when I arrived, and the kitchen smelled like a delicious time was about to be had. The dumplings were added to butter-sauteed cabbage for the haluski. She also made panache - potatoes and cheese spread between two thin layers of dough, baked in the oven and then spread with butter while still hot. Cheri brought homemade pierogies - more cheese, potatoes, and butter. Jalapeno cheddar kielbasa rounded out the dinner.

So what we had - besides a whole lot of yum - was something very rich, very buttery, and very fatty. Enter a crisp, lemony, acidic Sauvignon Blanc to cut through the heaviness and balance it all out. The pairing worked.

The Mt. Beautiful 2016 Sauvignon Blanc is bright with the aroma of grass, flowers and stone, with minerality, lemon, and some melon on the palate and a mouth-watering acidity. Depending on where you purchase it, this bottle falls into the $15-$18 range.

The winery, which is located in the Canterbury region on the South Island - where a lot of wonderful Sauvignon Blanc comes from - has a commitment to sustainability that I really appreciate.

Sustainable farming methods are a core value behind Mt. Beautiful's success; the vineyards and winery are certified-sustainable. In the vineyard, the team uses minimal input—they tread very carefully, using things like motorbikes to pull the mowers and harvesting by hand. Lush ground cover acts as host plants for parasitic wasps that naturally keep pests under control. Flowers and other plants attract beneficial insects in and around the grapevine rows. Additionally, after these helpful plants have flowered and served their purpose, their organic matter adds nutrients to the soil.

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