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Dan Dawson, Dan the Wine Man:This perfect pairing Is based on emotion

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rose at backroom wines

The rosé selection at Back Room Wines in Napa. 

Preface: I’ve been a San Francisco Giants fan since 1976. I can still hear Lon Simmons calling a Gary Matthews double on the radio as my dad and I toiled in the garage. The first game I attended was 1980 on a cold August evening at Candlestick, upper deck. Giants 2, Astros 0.

My mom was freezing…bought a ski cap and wool scarf to survive. I was in short sleeves and mystified how anyone could complain about the cold. I was so excited being there.

Sorry, I don’t have any love for A’s fans. None ‘til they win a playoff series. And if you’re a Dodger fan, well isn’t that special. Sharpen your pencils, folks. I have more recommendations this week than usual. I started writing as a Giants-Marlins game came on the radio and I got carried away!

I’m enamored with Ken’s ballpark home-run recipes. I wish I had an actual wine-pairing report for you, but time was not my friend prior to deadline. Rest assured I’ll be cooking and pairing before the Giants have played 60 games. The Pulled Pork will be divine. The 40 Clove Garlic Chicken looks awesome. It will be much better than the memorably bad sandwich I had at Candlestick in the early ‘90s. Nacho Cheese Sauce…do you notice how little cheese is in it? I think I’ll make it in honor of the year’s first Giants-Dodgers game, May 21.

A full food and wine pairing report would have been nice but I’m game to provide useful wine advice without it. You see, choosing your wines to drink with ballpark fare is more emotional than analytical. What do you want to drink on New Year’s Eve? Thanksgiving? Wines that make you happy, right? I’m going to write about happy-fun wines before getting nerdy on you.

I asked a few hundred friends on social media what they like to drink with baseball park nachos, brats, and pulled pork sandwiches. The overwhelming response was Rosé. Most replies didn’t say why because that would scratch away a little of the happiness. Don’t overthink it. And c’mon, what could possibly be better than a Chicago Dog and a glass of rosé?

Coming in a strong second place amongst my social media friends was sparkling wine and Champagne. That’s as happy as a Brandon Belt splash hit.

In the spirit of happiness on the diamond, here are six rosés & bubbles for you to enjoy with all three of Ken’s Ballpark Homeruns.

• McKahn Family Rosé of Grenache 2020, $26. Very dry and bright rosé full of juicy watermelon and strawberry flavors. Available at Feast It Forward on McKinstry Street. Ask for a taste.

• Hudson Grenache Rosé, Napa Valley-Carneros 2020, $32 at Hudson Greens & Goods in Oxbow Public Market. Lilacs, lemon, strawberry and white pepper. Intense as an extra inning nail-biter.

• Domaine Saint Roch Provence Rosé 2020, $19 at Oxbow Wine Merchant. I’ve enjoyed this wine for many years. Definitive Provence style with a suggestion of berry flavor, pepper start and salty finish. As cutting as a Lincecum two seam fastball.

• Ulacia Txakolina Rosé 2020, $21 at Bay Grape on Solano Avenue, Napa. From Basque country on Spain’s Bay of Biscay. Fermented dry to just 11% alcohol, which means the acid is high as a major league pop-up. 

• Von Winning Riesling Sekt, Brut $28 at Back Room Wines. Dry German Sparkling Riesling. If you love your bubbles and you’re not familiar with Sekt, try it. May just change your wine drinking life. I’m not kidding.

• Eric Bordelet Poiré “Granit” 2019, $28 at Compline Wine Shop. Pear cider sourced from 300-year=old pear trees in Normandy. Crazier than 7 inning doubleheader games.

Let’s get just a little nerdy. Here are my wine recommendations for Ken’s recipes.

The Nacho Cheese Sauce needs an ice-cold white wine whose flavor doesn’t disappear when served very cold. Compline has one of my all-time favorite crisp whites right now. The acidity in La Pépie Muscadet 2019 ($19) will cut straight through all that nacho spice and richness. Makes a darn good slushy too.

40 Clove Garlic Chicken is the perfect opportunity to break out one of your heady, toasty, rich California Chardonnays. Flavors match, especially if you give the garlic a little more cooking time than in Ken’s recipe. I’m going to add to start cooking the garlic the same time as the onions. Toasty oak, buttery, low-acid Chardonnay and 40 Clove Garlic Chicken are like a 2014 Bumgarner-Posey battery. Synchronicity.

Maldonado Chardonnay “Los Olivos” Napa 2018 ($38 to $42) is just the thing. Toasty, creamy, luscious. Perfect wine with 40 Clove Garlic Chicken IMPO. Find it at the Maldonado tasting room in Calistoga, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in St Helena and Back Room Wines in Napa.

Ah, pulled pork. It nourishes my soul like a hearty “BEAT LA” chant. Thinking Zinfandel is a great match? You. Are. Right. My recommendations today take Zinfandel into extra innings. Try one of California’s Old Vine Field Blends (OVFB) with Ken’s pulled pork recipe.

OVFBs are a wine column in and of itself. Short version - they are 5-25 grape blends that grow together and ferment together. There’s no rule of the grapes in them but Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignane, Alicante Bouschet and Grenache are five common grapes in an OVFB. 100+ year old vines are common. I could recommend 25, but here are three to buy winery direct. Look them up online. All offer easy Napa/Sonoma pick up or free delivery.

• Post & Vine “Testa Vineyard” Mendocino 2017, $32. The wine has as much soul as Aretha.

• Bucklin “Old Hill Ranch — Ancient Field Blend” Sonoma Valley 2018, $38. Bucklin is in Glen Ellen. Drive over to pick up. Stop by El Molino Central there or back for amazing Mexican food.

• Dancing Crow “Old Stake 1901” Lake County 2019, $25 – Must buy six. It’s OK, you’re making a lot of pulled pork. Dancing Crow is located in St Helena. Call the winery before purchasing to arrange pick up. This is an unbelievable value.

That’s all for this week. Be well, drink well and long live the pitcher batting.

Dan Dawson is a former Napa Valley wine merchant and sommelier. These days he helps small California wineries connect with folks who want their wine but don’t know it yet. You can reach Dan via his website, and @dawsonwineadvisor on Facebook and Instagram.

Pop the cork on Napa Valley wine!

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