Approaching the wine aisle at a grocery store is like landing in a foreign or unfamiliar place without a map. There are streets you’ve read about, signs you understand, but a slight hesitance in choosing which direction to go. Chardonnay? No, I don’t want white. Rosé? No, not feeling bubbly. Oh Merlot! I’ve heard good things about her. Wait, 34 bucks? I just want a glass or two. I’ll go with this Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s 11 dollars, from California and the label is cool.
That’s how I’ve spent several evenings in a wine aisle when all I want to do is sip a great tasting, reasonably priced wine, relax, get a buzz (before the headache), and fall asleep with a tinted-toothed smile.
Enter Porter & Plot—the wine that makes the decisions for you. These limited production artisan wines are refined, complex, approachable and affordable. The lesser known varietals act as an exclusive introduction to small lot, limited production wines.
During a private Porter & Plot tasting in West Hollywood, I was treated to a journey of the senses to explore how aroma, texture and taste relate to understanding a wine’s characteristics.
When tasting wine, we have an ingrained urge to give it a sniff before taking a sip. Jars of fruits, veggies and spices were laid out for us to smell to see if the wine’s “nose” and taste had traces of those items. I clung to notes of honey and pineapple in a white 2013 Columbia Valley Pinot Gris, yet hints of apple and rosemary resonated with others. To each his own.
Descriptors we use to classify wines—dry, sweet, fruity, acidic—can be developed in the same way we classify touch. It’s universally known that silk is soft, satin is smooth, sandpaper is course, and burlap is rough. A wine’s properties—alcohol content, tannin, age, aging process—lead to its definitive taste profile, just as those textures elicit distinct sensations.
Food and wine are like pen and paper or Jay-z and Beyoncé—compatible duos. Foods native to a wine’s region often pair well, as do dishes that complement and counter wine’s taste profiles. I gravitate toward harder cheeses (cheddars, Parmesan, Gouda) and fresh cheeses (ricotta, mozzarella, feta), so I enjoyed the pairing with the Pinot Gris—creamy burrata and sour/acidic cumquat played to the dryer, subtle fruity notes of the white wine.
With Porter & Plot wines, we can skip the hassles of navigating wine aisles and let them be our guide (porter) as we discover a new region (plot) on a budget more affordable than say, a foreign place.
Pasta only needs simple tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese to shine.
Tomato Sauce Recipe:
1 large can whole San Marzano tomatoes (with or without basil)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp crushed red peppers
Salt & pepper
Brown crushed garlic on low heat in olive oil. Add crushed red peppers. Crush tomatoes with hands and add. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes. Blend in blender or use immersion blender. Return sauce to pot. Simmer 15 minutes. Finish with a little butter and serve over pasta with freshly grated Parmesan.
Cheap oyster alert at EMC Seafood: $1 oysters every day from 4-7PM.
The lobster roll ($16) is fantastic, buttery, larger and cheaper than you’ll find at other places in town.
And wait, best part of EMC: sake bombs are 3 bucks. ALL DAY. Cheers!
Also pictured: soft shell crab sliders. Crispy!
I also recommend the crispy garlic jalapeno chicken wings and crispy pepper calamari.
A complete meal: Chicken rice bowl with Thai green curry, Laotian beer & mango coconut rice from ShopHouse (the Asian Chipotle). Spicy and delicious. I also recommend the pork & chicken meatballs, green beans and tamarind vinaigrette.
Pictured: Tim Wildin, Director of Concept & Development for ShopHouse, from his interview on my radio program, “Forkin’ Amazing”