Grilled Shrimp and California Sauvignon Blanc for Labor Day

Summer's best vegetables, fresh shellfish and crisp white wines are on the menu for summer's last stand
Aug 26, 2011

With the advent of Labor Day weekend, summer may officially be coming to a close, but our gardens, more bountiful than ever, don't seem to have gotten the memo. Ripe red tomatoes, juicy eggplants, tender new potatoes and sweet peppers abound, and it takes little more than a splash of olive oil to make complete meals that are the embodiment of late summer.

If you're entertaining for Labor Day weekend, try the recipe below, which features simple grilled shrimp and some of late summer's produce stars, themselves grilled, boiled and raw. They mingle with garlic in a mild tomato and basil vinaigrette that provides piquancy without drowning out the refreshing qualities of the California Sauvignon Blanc we suggest you pour alongside. The wine's balance of crisp acidity, nuanced aromatics and echoes of summer fruit make it a natural pairing with this hyper-seasonal dish. We've provided a list of recently rated selections below.

Grilled Shrimp and Summer Vegetable Salad

• 3/4 pound new potatoes, scrubbed
• 2 medium eggplants, cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch-thick slices
• Salt to taste
• 2 green or red bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise
• 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
• 1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• Freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, cut into chiffonade
• 2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined

1. Place potatoes in a small pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes or until easily pierced with a knife. When cool enough to handle, cut potatoes into bite-size chunks and set aside.

2. Sprinkle both sides of each eggplant slice with salt and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Wipe off excess moisture.

3. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Grill eggplant slices and peppers until nicely charred and easily pierced with a fork, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and set aside to cool, then cut each into bite-size pieces.

4. While vegetables cool, toss tomato chunks with a few pinches of salt and place in a colander over a nonreactive bowl, into which you have placed the garlic. Let sit for about 30 minutes, gently tossing occasionally, to release the maximum amount of tomato water.

5. In a large, nonreactive bowl, combine the potatoes, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes. Strain the tomato water and discard the garlic. To the strained tomato water, add the vinegar, mayonnaise and oil and whisk well to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the vegetables, tossing gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove from refrigerator, fold in basil and allow to come to room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

6. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and grill until cooked through, about 1 minute per side. Serve hot shrimp alongside vegetable mixture. Serves 4 to 6.


Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases priced at $25 or less. More California Sauvignon Blancs can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.

MERRY EDWARDS Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley 2009 Score: 93 | $30
Extremely complex, with layers of honeysuckle, apricot, peach, lemon curd, mineral and nectarine that are rich, fleshy, ripe and very generous, with a juicy acidity and plenty of aromatics. The finish just lingers on and on. Drink now through 2016. 8,005 cases made. —M.W.

CHALK HILL Sauvignon Blanc Chalk Hill 2009 Score: 90 | $30
Pineapple, lemon, green apple and nectarine flavors are mingled with a crunchy acidity, making this refreshing and lively. This is smooth, aromatic and balanced, especially on the long finish. Drink now. 7,000 cases made. —M.W.

JOEL GOTT Sauvignon Blanc California 2010 Score: 89 | $12
Wonderfully focused and fresh, with lime zest, lemongrass, passion fruit, and lemon notes that show laserlike focus. Long, juicy finish. Drink now. 29,294 cases made. —M.W.

ROTH Sauvignon Blanc Alexander Valley 2010 Score: 89 | $16
Pretty and delicate, featuring floral and white pepper aromatics that complement the lemon, pear and apple flavors. Sleek, showing a well-integrated, crisp acidity. Drink now. 15,000 cases made. —M.W.

FIRESTONE Sauvignon Blanc Santa Ynez Valley 2009 Score: 88 | $13
There's a racy, nervy acidity that gives excitement to the lemon, lime, grapefruit and tangy green apple flavors. Offers terrific focus and a juicy finish. Drink now. 12,000 cases made. —M.W.

GIRARD Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2010 Score: 88 | $16
Green apple and honeydew melon notes are fragrant, fresh and refreshing, leading to honeysuckle, mineral and fresh thyme aromatic details on a smooth frame. Drink now. 20,000 cases made. —M.W.

RODNEY STRONG Sauvignon Blanc Northern Sonoma Charlotte's Home 2009 Score: 87 | $14
Sweet pea nuances give this wine some charm, offering mouthwatering Key lime, lemon and papaya flavors. Bright and lively, with celery leaf aromatics. Drink now. 88,750 cases made. —M.W.

BOGLE Sauvignon Blanc California 2010 Score: 86 | $9
Green pepper and fresh-cut grass notes give this wine some personality, with a zingy acidity and terrific flavors of lime, grapefruit and melon. Drink now. 50,000 cases made. —M.W.

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