This year, for the first time, the US surpassed France as the world’s largest wine-consuming nation. Keep in mind, this is in total volume, not per-capita consumption. Regardless, we are drinking more wine with each passing year. A thirst for a good glass of wine is just a local restaurant away from being quenched.
Gamberetti’s, an Italian restaurant, offers 22 different wines on their menu plus the wine special of the day. Prices range from $14 to $57 per bottle or $4.50 to $7.25 a glass.
“We carry Italian and Northwest wines. Italy makes wines per region to complement their food and that’s what we try to do with our menu,” says Treva Gambs, chef and owner of Gamberetti’s.
Gambs selects her wine based on taste and price point. Coelho, a family-owned and -operated winery and vineyard in Amity, is one of the local companies she purchases from. “We carry wine from the Coelho Vineyard because it’s similar to Italian style wines,” she said. Gambs switches up vineyards due to availability of a wine and finding what wines work with food.
The majority of wines Gamberetti’s carries are 2009. “The year we carry depends on if it was a good wine year; 2006 and 2007 were good years. That depends on the weather and how much sun we had, which affects how long the grapes are left to ripen before they are picked or if there was an early freeze that year,” she says.
To select a wine for your meal, you have to take into consideration what you are having. If you’re not sure what wine would taste best with your dinner, ask. “Red wines usually go well with meats and whites with seafood and veggies. I ask people what they prefer and try to fit the wine with their own palate,” explains Gambs.
With their diavolo ravioli, Gambs would recommend the Zaccagnini Montepulciano Riserva wine because of the spice in the dish.
If you decide to get the pesto pollo, Gambs suggests pairing it with the Valpolicella Ripasso red wine, which brings out the garlic in the chicken dish. “If you like wine, it enhances the dining experience,” said Gambs.
Over at The Crooked House Bistro, there’s an extensive selection of different wines, mostly representative of wines from different regions of France and a couple of Oregon wines.
“2007 and 2009 are drinking very well. The lasting finish and balance of the wines are very good,” says chef and owner Bernard Malherbe. To select his wines, Malherbe tastes each wine and looks at the year, producer and the price. Regarding the year of the wine, weather is important. “Weather is everything. With wine, there are on and off years,” adds Malherbe. When choosing between local vineyards, Malherbe looks at the wine maker and the terrain in that vineyard. Momtazi Heights Vineyard and Bethel Heights Vineyard are two vineyards Malherbe carries Pinot noirs from.
If you find yourself eating the duck and foie gras burger, Malherbe recommends the Saint Joseph Rhone. “This dish is high in fat and the acidity in this wine cuts fat,” he adds. If you have the oven-roasted chicken, the Domain des Treilles Côtes du Rhône would be a good selection. “It has a medium body and is not too strong.”
In business for almost 22 years, chef and owner of Morton’s Bistro, Steve Morton still remembers his bottle of Napa Valley chardonnay, the first bottle of wine he had and enjoyed with his meal as a part of a dining experience. As Morton’s menu changes, so does his selection of about 80 to 120 wines.
Morton doesn’t have a particular vineyard he always goes to but carries wines from different local vineyards. “I have wines from Amity Vineyards and Terrapin Cellars winery,” says Morton. He has taste tests three to four times a week at the restaurant.
If you went to Morton’s Bistro and had the penne diablo dish, Morton would suggest a white wine to accompany it. “This is a spicy dish and a white would be sweeter and the body of the wine wouldn’t compete with the spice,” he says. On the other hand, if you had the snails and garlic butter, “A red wine would be a good choice because of the fat and garlic flavor in the dish,” says Morton.
When it comes to wine, you can find many varying prices, from a cheap $2.99 Trader Joe’s bottle, or one that costs $200. Does price matter? “Not necessarily. There are cheap and yummy wines out there but you just have to find them, yet $70 to $80 will definitely get you a good Cabernet,” says Morton.
“Wine cleanses the palate. The ritual of smelling and seeing the colors, both taste better together,” he adds.