Leftover food, especially home-cooked meals, will be much around these next two months.
I’ve noticed on my travels that taking leftover restaurant food back home in so-called doggie bags isn’t done much anywhere outside North America, no matter of course that the leftovers aren’t even intended for Fido.
Looked at one way, it’s no surprise that we love our leftovers. Reflecting on Thanksgiving, America itself is what was left over after they tried everything else.
So to accompany your leftovers, here are some wines; they’re aimed at food that might well be a mishmash of flavors, textures and various elements such as fat and salt, sweet and sour, all in one place.
They’re seven in number and from as many countries, in another mirror of our own country’s makeup. This list is their Ellis Island, but I hope they find a home in yours.
1. 2010 Tintara Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale, Australia: Tintara is one of the specialty labels of the large Hardys group of Australia. This is classic cabernet sauvignon: high-toned, even austere, its tannins part of its internal structure (that is, they don’t scour or dry out; they’re part of the fruit). The wine boasts lots of spice, musk, mineral, menthol and black currant aromas and flavors. When some renditions of cabernet, from other countries, come off as heavy on the palate or thick in the mouth, they miss this classic style, its ethereal perfume, fine line and length. It’s also quite the fair price. $20.
2. 2011 Royal Tokaji Furmint, Tokaji, Hungary: We know this region in Eastern Europe for its sweet wines that we call “Tokay.” It is one of the oldest winemaking regions in the world and, despite years of communist mismanagement (or sheer ruin), has also always produced dry wines, especially from this grape, furmint. The aromas are like viognier’s (peach, apricot, spiced canned peach), the leanness and acidity like chenin blanc’s, the texture like viognier’s again. As a white wine, it is even slightly tannic on the finish. Delicious and intriguing both. $14-$20.
3. 2010 Casa de Saima Espumante Baga Bruto, Bairrada, Portugal: This is a slightly pinked sparkling wine from northern Portugal that will wow you with its aroma and flavors (plum, currant) and creamy, round-the-mouth texture. All that in a true methode champenoise bubbler, made of the thick-skinned, rumbly baga grape that barely had enough time to tincture the juice the color of a baby’s cheek. Stupendous price. $18.
4. 2012 Les Arums de Lagrange Blanc, Bordeaux, France: This is the white wine of the classified chateau Lagrange in St.-Julien (although most of the white wine’s grapes come from outside the appellation). It’s a blend of 40 percent sauvignon blanc for green- and white-fruit flavors, 20 percent sauvignon gris and 20 percent semillon for a nearly unctuous texture, and 10 percent muscadelle. Nearly all of it was fermented in wood, but the oak doesn’t overwhelm, merely gives the wine an overall almond character. It’s quite texturally inviting. $22.
5. 2012 Fattoria dei Barbi Morellino di Scansano, Tuscany, Italy: Coming from a portion of Tuscany called the Maremma (with its own nickname of “the California of Italy” for its warm but gentle climate), Morellino is a take on sangiovese that heightens its cherry and tomato-y aromas, tones down its tannins and acidity (though, blessedly for food, hones them to a sharper sense) and accents the red fruit with graphite, minerals, tobacco leaf and dried herbs. It’s a very come-hither sangiovese, and the juicy finish just makes it more seductive. $22.
6. 2011 Weingut Tegernseerhof Gruner Veltliner Smaragd Bergdistel, Wachau, Austria: Yeah, the wine is a mouthful too, but it’s basically a special bottling of spatlese-level ripe gruner veltliner from one of Austria’s primo producers and from a fine vintage. Gruner from Austria can be one of the great white wines of the globe; to me it often smells like fresh rain. It sports scents of celery, lees-y lentils (trust me here) and a panoply of white fruits (ripe pear, apple) graced by citrusy notes and always, always the tang of white pepper on the finish. $25-$30.
7. 2011 Kumeu River Chardonnay Hunting Hill Vineyard, Auckland, New Zealand: We know New Zealand white wine as its sauvignon blanc — which makes up 85 percent of the wine the country exports. But many other white grapes successfully grow there and are worth seeking out for the same qualities that we value in the sauvignons: purity and focus of fruit. This chardonnay, made from a vineyard planted north of Auckland, by descendants of some of the country’s original Croatian settlers, enjoys wild yeast and barrel fermentation, much as it would in Burgundy. It will fool you into thinking it actually is Burgundian, so similar are the signals; Meursault, perhaps, or Puligny-Montrachet. $45.
If your wine store does not carry these wines, ask for one similar in style and price.
Fred Tasker’s wine column will return next week.