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Pairing Off: Chips Ahoy

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Each week, Pairing Off attempts to find just the right bottle of wine to go with ordinary food.

At some point we must outgrow milk and cookies.

So as adults, what do we resort to? Coffee and cookies? I guess if we want to be adult in the Sam Spade sense of the word, we could try bourbon and cookies. Whatever, we still need a Chips Ahoy fix every once in awhile.

There must, of course, be a wine-based solution--a sophisticated adult beverage to go with the however many dozen chips they cram into a cookie.

Now, there are wines that work naturally with chocolate. But on this occasion I wanted something unique.

It being Sunday--meaning Goody Goody and other stores staffed with experts would be locked up--I ventured to Veritas and Brooks Anderson (dressed rather shockingly in torn shorts and a hat apparently borrowed from McLean Stevenson's M*A*S*H* days). Seems he'd come straight from watching the Cowboys--in a rural Louisiana tavern, from the looks of it.

"Port," he said.

Unfortunately TABC allows him to sell as many fortified wines by the glass as patrons can down before climbing into their cars to weave home, but refuses to allow shops like Veritas to sell it by the bottle. So he turned instead to an Italian wine.

Casalone's Mariposa is a light, effervescent red. reeking of forest fruit and roses bushes, with hints of moss and wet tobacco. On the palate its a more resonant wine, trilling raspberry, lavender, chocolate covered fruit, balsa wood and--especially--rose petals. In fact, the mouth feel, though bubbly, carries a velvety sensation quite similar to a fresh flower. At 5.5 percent alcohol, it's also as far away from port as you can get.

They achieve this through tightly observed pressure tank fermentation...but that's beyond the scope of Pairing Off. More important is the match between fresh red wine and almost stale cookie.

Well, it's odd. These are two distinct products that refuse to act in concert. Instead, the flavors take turns: bite a Chips Ahoy, you taste dry flour and chocolate. Sip the wine, you taste what I've described. One replaces the other.

The only noticeable shift is a taste similar to hard cherry candy that emerges in the background, as well as a touch of saltiness from the cookie.

But that's all well and good. An interesting wine, Chips Ahoy for dessert--hard to complain...although I had to reach for the vodka in order to get a buzz going.

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