most remote places in the world, so when I was invited to a pizza/wine tasting at Grimaldi's Pizzeria last night, I could hardly stand it!
The first pairing, presented by General Manager Phil Lawson, was completely unexpected; white pizza and white wine, a Riesling at that. Sometimes the wine snob within tries to raise it's ugly head and I could feel it stirring. Best way to subdue the beast is to feed it. The piping hot pizza was loaded with salty artichokes and spicy sausage. The flavors knocked the peach and other sweet fruits right out of the Mondavi Riesling ($7 glass/$25 bottle) for a surprisingly nice partnership.
I initially went to last night's tasting in search of an Italian Malbec, exclusive to Grimaldi's. Yes, Argentina's flagship red is being grown and bottled in Northern Italy, and while it doesn't hold candle to it's South American brother, it did the job when served with the meatball pizza. In a blind tasting I don't think I would've nailed the KRIS ($8 glass/$30 bottle) as a Malbec. It was a bit thin with some blueberry notes; a little earthy with a hint of cassis in the finish. I tasted some cardamon when drinking it with the meatballs. I would like to try it again with a few more years in the bottle.
I'm a big fan of Italian wines so was really looking forward to the next pairing. The Santa Christina Sangiovese ($6 glass/$20 bottle) from well-known Italian producer Antinori, was a delicious glass of dark fruit; a bit floral with some all-spice. That combination with the sweet, roasted red peppers and ricotta cheese pizza was a hit. Lawson said his chef's roast between two to three cases of red peppers a day. They cut cheese about seven hours a day. (insert Beavis and Butt-Head joke here)
There's something about saving the best for last. My favorite combo of the night was the Educated Guess Cabernet ($10 glass/$40 bottle) from Napa, paired with a bold onion and pepperoni pizza, with a lightly charred crust. The wine had hints of cocoa, french vanilla, cherry and leather. Lawson calls it one of the best values on Grimaldi's menu. Order this combo!
A little inside info for my gluten free friends; Grimaldi's has been working on a dough recipe for you. It's a challenge, finding one that holds up to the heat of the coal oven while maintaining the integrity and reputation of the dough that Grimaldi's is famous for. But know that you are not forgotten and will hopefully soon be accomodated!
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