Pairing Off: Apple Pie

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There was an advertising jingle back in the 70s proclaiming Americans love for "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet."

Slogan writers often take some liberties, of course. I mean, football was already the nation's number one sport by then. And clearly this was before Miley Cyrus, reality television and i Phones...although the ad was right about Chevy, which we love so much we now own the company.

A lot of things have changed, in other words. But through decades of 'tax and spend' liberals and 'don't tax but still spend' conservatives, from one undeclared war to the next, Americans have remained true to the apple pie.

There is, as we all know, nothing so satisfying as warm apple pie.

Naturally, we want an all-American wine to go along with this dish, right? So Denise Jones of Vino 100 in Uptown headed straight for the Chardonnay rack.

Once there, she pondered two brands for quite some time--ah, the freedom to choose--before settling (thankfully) on the cheaper option, a 2006 Chard from Milbrandt Vineyards in Washington state.

The wine presents aromas associated with candied fruit, mango chutney and resin--an intriguing combination that expresses itself on the palate in even more complex terms: vanilla bean, old fruit, fresh apple pomace and a subtle shade of oak. It's a dry Chardonnay and one in fitting with her insistence that light or no oak would pair best.

Of course, it's not like I baked the pie from an old family recipe or anything. Nope--went straight for Mrs. Smith's brand in the frozen food aisle at Tom Thumb...or was it Kroger?...and hoped she was right.

Commercially produced pies take many shortcuts. The common thread through each bite was cinnamon--a strong pull of cinnamon, followed by syrup and apple zest. Against this, the wine sours considerably and discovers a peppery backbeat. Although the fruit flavors thin out, the wine carries enough acidity to strip away the pie's syrupy character. And the finish quickens, wrapping up in whiff of toast.

So, essentially, the pie becomes better. Add cream--yes, cream; no milk in my household...if you can call an overgrown adolescent and needy cat a household--and the peppery beat picks up steam.

The wine changes dramatically against the pie--a little too harsh, in my opinion, although some would probably appreciate the crisp, tart, pepper and bread flavors.

Ah, yes. Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chardonnay.

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