Columbia Valley’s soft reds: Right on with simmering chicken
Among the best lighter meals for low-key gatherings is slow simmered chicken. Not too stuffy and certainly not overly priced, these are quick to setup and serve. However, the wine pairing can be a real balancing act, especially if your favorite recipe includes a full range of spices.
One of the best examples of a hard-to-pair dish is Chicken Cacciatore. With the lighter flavors of the chicken it is easy to overpower it with a big red wine. But all the spices riding along with simmered entrees like this can present problems of their own, easily pushing most white wines well into a background of “culinary debris”.
But there is a really interesting group of wines available for this type of food, red blends from the Columbia Valley AVA. These are renowned for their dark ripe fruit and multi-spice character. Off the wall terms like, spiced chocolate, burnt nutmeg, toasted cinnamon and graphite-cedar are often associated with red wines from the Columbia Valley.
And this is especially true with their Cabernets, Merlots and Syrah varietals. But even with this spiciness, these wines often follow through with a soft finish that just melts away like caramel. Perfect for chicken dishes featuring lots of simmering veggies and garlic!
One of the best entry-level “gateway” wines from this region is called the C.M.S. red blend. It’s produced by the Hedges Family Estate. Somehow, they’ve managed to pack many of the renowned Columbia flavors into this selection and still keep the price under $15. And luckily it’s easy to find at Phoenix area Total Wine outlets for $13.99.
Don’t have the gumption to cook up a batch of Chicken Cacciatore to enjoy all this? No problem. Simply drop by Ahwatukee’s Hillside Spot, order up this pairing & experience it any evening. Their mesquite smoked version of this total comfort food is always worth a visit. Naturally, Hillside will gladly crack open the necessary bottles of C.M.S. required to complete the pairing (it‘s 1/2 price on Wine Wednesdays). No fuss at all.