San Francisco’s CAV Wine Bar and Kitchen is exactly what I want in a wine bar: casual and comfortable, with a cool decor and eclectic wine list. The wine director is Pamela Busch, and over the years, she has both directly and indirectly introduced me to many amazing wines and pairings.
This time I ended up ordering a California wine I was already familiar with, Saintsbury’s Vin Gris of Pinot Noir Carneros 2008 ($28 on the wine list). It was a compromise wine—I wanted a white and my friend wanted a red, so we decided to enjoy the pink together. Saintsbury makes its Vin Gris in a method called saignée, a “bleeding,” or draining, of juice from Pinot Noir grapes, so it only has brief contact with the skins, then fermenting it separately. I liked how fresh and fragrant the wine was, with bright strawberry, raspberry and melon flavors and a crisp finish. I rated it 86 points, non-blind.
The revelation was how well the wine paired with CAV’s French fries. As we snacked on the crisp, tasty fries (and the most amazing homemade ketchup I’ve ever tasted), I realized that it was the perfect wine choice. It balanced the salt and earthiness and stood up to the bold tomato flavor in the ketchup. I’m going to be pairing rosés and French fries again.
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