Pairings Pictured: California Cinsault

Pairings Pictured

Wine artist Hawk Wakawaka explores food and wine pairings, visually.

Note from the Artist: Wine and food are opportunities for pleasure and sharing. But wine can often be seen as daunting, making pairing it with food feel difficult. I draw illustrations about wine to express the fun and love for the experience that can also be found. In this series, I want to share a quick insight into wines that are great for the season and the foods they love to spend time with. Enjoy!


Click to enlarge. [Illustration: Hawk Wakawaka]

With red fruit, earthy musk, and spice, Cinsault blends well with other varieties to create plush flavors in Rhone blends, or fresh rosés in Southern France. A world traveler that does well in high heat, the grape found its way throughout the colonies of France even into the New World of Western North America. No longer celebrated in its home country, Cinsault was almost lost in California too, only to find a recent resurgence as quality wine. It's a historian showing the changes of global grape politics.

Cinsault rooted itself in the Bechthold Vineyard of Lodi, California in 1886 under a mistaken name. Recently genetic testing revealed its true identity, and winemakers have rushed to make special rosés and red wines with it. In other parts of the world, Cinsault is treated today mostly as a blending grape. But Cinsault can be tasted on its own terms, alone in a bottle of wine, most readily from California. The Bechthold Vineyard might be the oldest living planting of Cinsault on the planet, and it certainly is in North America.

Cinsault's spice, reminiscent of peppercorn and cardamom, and its bright red fruit does well with grilled vegetables, or grilled light meats like pork and chicken. But the wine also loves the creamy, distinctive flavors of a mild Thai curry, or the fried dough and potato-love-fest of samosa. After all, the grape is a world traveler. It likes to complement foods of many cultures. (Even pizza.)

Producers to check out: For a fresh, fruit-and-flower focused, lighter presentation in rosé form, look for the Scholium Project Rhododactylus, or, for a little more earthy fruit, look to the Onesta Cinsault Rosé. For fantastic dry red wines: Onesta Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault is concentrated and yummy. Or, for red fruit with a cinnamon pinch and good value turn to the Turley Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault.

About the Artist: Hawk Wakawaka is a wine drawing philosopher with a heart of gold. She also writes the website Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews.

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