At our house, we're already cranking up the a/c and bracing for the Texas summer.
But with the arrival of the heat also comes my favorite time of our yearly gastronomic cycle, when fried and grilled foods are guiltlessly consumed in mass quantities.
Summertime holidays -- from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July, Labor Day and all of the family birthdays that fall in between -- mean trips to Orange, Texas, to visit with my in-laws. And no stay in East Texas is complete without an oyster po-boy munched down on the banks of one of the many bayous that define the rhythms of life there.
On my palate, the thing that makes the Oyster Po-Boy such a noble dish is its unctuousness and its confluence of fatty flavors and textures, from the crispy batter and chewy Gulf oysters to the creaminess of the rémoulade.
In my wine pairing, I crave that same unctuousness, although I also want acidity, freshness and bright fruit to temper the gentle heat of the seasoning in this dish.
The answer to this enogastronomic conundrum?
Viognier, my friends, Viognier, that wonderful white variety from the Northern Rhône Valley that combines body and richness with fruit and acidity without the need of superfluous oakiness.
And in a rare exception to my general indifference to the often overly ripe wines of Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez, I'll reach for the Ampelos Viognier from the Santa Rita Hills. When it comes to pairing with my first oyster po-boys of summer, no other wine will do (unless someone wants to break out the Condrieu, but that's another story for another post).
Find the Ampelos Viognier at Spec's for about $25.