Between Winter's silver chill and Summer's golden heat is the mellow yellow, shimmering warmth of Spring sunshine.
Between the mineral leanness of Alpine pinot grigio and lush California chardonnay is Pinot Blanc, a specialty of the Alsace region of northeast France.
Pinot Blanc (PEE-no BLAHNK) is the white-skinned member of the Pinot family, a cousin of the grey-skinned Grigio. With ripe apple and pear flavors and firm acidity, it was once confused with chardonnay, but eschews chardonnay's heft, power and complexity. Like a perfect house guest, Pinot Blanc is refreshing, never demanding.
When I want a break from the intricate preparations, three-alarm spice and/or intellectual challenge of Chicagoland's dynamic food scene, when I want a peaceful, easy feeling, I choose comfort food and Pinot Blanc.
Like Pinot Blanc and eggs. The wine's soft acidity refreshes eggy richness; it's not-too-dry, not-too-sweet flavor enhances the underlying sweetness of delicious fat and balances salt, pepper, cured meats and other egg seasonings.
No surprise that egg dishes are another Alsace specialty, famously quiche Lorraine made with eggs, cream and bacon and tarte à l'oignon, the regional onion and egg tart.
Fourteenth generation Alsace winegrower Christian Beyer of Domaine Emile Beyer, recommends Alsace Chef Olivier Nasti's "perfect" egg -- cooked at 64-degrees for one hour, served with almonds, hollandaise and shaved truffle. "You need to put a little money aside for the truffle," Beyer laughs.
Now that the newest dining trend is "topped with a fried egg" -- from sushi to prime rib hash -- you can say "Pinot Blanc all day!"
For a Kir Royale sparkling cocktail, French Mimosa or easy entrance into a morning after the night before, chill a bottle of bubbly Cremant d'Alsace:
Cremant d'Alsace "Clos St. Landelin", Mure NV: Delicate, jewel-bright bubbles, caressing texture and crystal-clean flavor, farmed from northern France's sun-drenched peaks by the twelfth-generation of Mure's. A blend of Pinot Blanc, Gris and Auxerrois with a dash of riesling for an easy, elegant cocktail and complement to all hors d'oeuvres and lighter fare. (At wine shops & chains, about $20.)
Pinot Blanc is often blended with other grapes, notably Auxerrois (OH-sair-WAH), native of the Lorraine district (see quiche above). In the same family tree as chardonnay, Auxerrois adds body and rich aromas to traditional Pinot Blanc-based blends including:
Pinot Blanc, Trimbach 2016: Is it my imagination or does this wine smell of fresh daffodils? No, that's the solid helping of Auxerrois in the blend. The plump, refreshing and dry-ish flavors played well with a range of dishes pulled from my fridge including turmeric-roasted cauliflower, black olives and cold roast chicken. The Trimbach estate, established in 1626 and still family-operated, now covers 40 hectares throughout six villages. (At wine shops & chains, under $20.)
On Saturday, June 29, visit your area Binny's Beverage Depot to taste a range of Alsace wines in the "Alsace Rocks" promotion. Complimentary, no registration required, call your local Binny's for details. Throughout June, Binny's/ Lincoln Park will also offer Alsace wine flights in their Tasting Room.
Mary Ross is an Advanced Sommelier (Court of Master Sommeliers), a Certified Wine Educator (Society of Wine Educators) and recipient of the Wine Spectator's "Grand Award of Excellence." Write to her at food@daily herald.com.