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© 1999 JDM Enterprises
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by Jerry D. Mead

This time of year the fashionable meats  are ham and spring lamb. Lots of folks want to know what wine to drink with ham. Not so many ask what to drink with lamb. They seem to have their own ideas on lamb.

You've heard the old saw, "Red wine with red meat, white wine with fish or fowl," which is o.k. as old saws go, just don't go with it 100 percent because there are exceptions. Well, you might add, "Pink wine with pink meat,"  since ham likes roses or very light bodied reds.

Whether you should try pink wine, red wine (or an exception) with your ham depends on how the ham is cooked and with what it might be served.

Baked hams that are served hot and have fairly sweet crusts or sauces, call for roses, in my opinion. That can mean anything from a really fruity White Zinfandel, to wines with a bit more color like Mill Creek's Cabernet Blush or Simi's Rose of Cabernet. Pedroncelli's Zinfandel Rose is a longtime favorite, as well.

If the ham has a savory sauce, more about spice than sugar, then try some of the lighter bodied Pinot Noirs. For large family gatherings value is always a consideration, and two really good value versions are Napa Ridge and The Monterey Vineyard. Selections from the Carneros or Santa Maria regions would be good choices flavorwise, or perhaps some of the Pinots of Oregon.

If we're talking cold ham, being served with potato, macaroni and spring salads, then go for well-chilled examples of the fruitiest roses and White Zins. Or go with an exception to the rule, like a floral, fruity and slightly sweet white wine such as Riesling or Gewurztraminer. Jekel makes great Riesling every year, as does Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington and scores of German producers. My favorite Gewurz of the moment is Thomas Fogarty, but Fetzer will be easier to find. Fetzer is also sweet where Fogarty is dry.


Speaking of matching wines with appropriate foods, Napa Valley's Louis M. Martini Winery has just come out with a wallet size Taste Matrix, that suggests popular wine types with a wide array of food suggestions grouped under headings such as "Strong Flavor-Hearty Style" and so on. Wines included are Barbera, Zinfandel, Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

The Taste Matrix is free and even includes some recipe cards, but please send $1 to offset postage and handling. Send to: Louis Martini, Attn: Food First, Box 112, St. Helena, CA 94574.


Getting back to more medalists from important categories at the New World International Wine Competition, it seems appropriate to report on this red which just happens to have an affinity for spring lamb.

We've told you previously that the winner of the Julio Gallo Memorial Trophy for Best New World Merlot went to the Best of Price Class winner from the lowest, up to $10 price range. That wine is Montpellier 1997 ($7).

But there were also two other golds at $10 or under: Forest Glen 1997 ($10) and Fetzer 1997 "Eagle Peak" ($9).

At the popular $10.01 to $18 price range the gold medal count went way up, a total of 14, including winners from Washington state and Colorado:

Best of Price Class honors to Brutocao 1996 "Mendocino Estate" ($18).

Additional golds in alphabetical order to: Bella Vigma 1997 "Twin Creek-Lodi" ($12); Bonterra 1996 "Mendocino-Organically Grown" ($17); Buttonwood Farms 1996 "Santa Ynez Valley" ($18); Chateau St. Jean 1996 "Sonoma" ($18); Codarossa 1996 "Central Coast" ($18); Folie A Deux 1996 ($14) and Fratelli 1996 "Paso Robles Estate" ($16).

Continuing with the golds: Gallo of Sonoma 1996 "Sonoma" ($11); Geyser Peak 1996 "Sonoma" ($17); Grande River 1996 "Grand Valley Mesa Estate" ($12); Hoodsport 1997 "Yakima Valley-Washington" ($15); Swanson 1996 "Oakville & Schmidt Ranch-Napa" ($15) and Taft Street 1997 "Central Coast" ($14).

At $18.01 to $28 the field calmed back down to just four golds, with Best of Price Class to: San Saba 1995 "Monterey" ($20).

The other three golds went to: Lolonis 1996 "Mendocino Private Reserve" ($24); Raymond 1996 "Napa Reserve" ($21) and Vina Calina 1997 "De Las Lamas" Chile ($20).

The final price category of $28.01 and up saw only three gold medalists as the judges got tough on the most expensive wines:

Best of Price Class to Chateau St. Jean 1994 "Sonoma Reserve ($55).

The other two golds to: Bartholomew 1997 "Sonoma Valley Estate" ($32) and Kendall-Jackson 1996 "Grand Reserve" ($42).

Because of the large number of wines mentioned it is impossible to list contact information, but you may contact my office for assistance with tracking down any particular wine: (800) 845-9463 or E-mail:

Limited Edition Rose:

Beringer 1997 Rose De Saignee ($16) Pronounce that "san yay," which refers to the way it's made. Free run juice is drawn off as red wine grapes are crushed. That first juice makes the pink wine of which this is an example, and a very tasty one. Mostly berry fruit with some pomegranate and sweetness right at threshold. There's quite a bit of flavor here, so this wine could hold up to a pork roast, cold salmon and would be nice as an all-around brunch companion.  Rating: 92/84

Best Buy, Wine of the Week:

Delicato 1997 White Zinfandel ($5 or less) The only White Zin to win a gold medal at this year's New World International (and thereby winner of the Trophy for Best White Zinfandel) it's the kind of delicious, relatively sweet, strawberry-cherry fruited, zingy with acidity wine that fans of this beverage like. You don't even have to like wine to like White Zinfandel. Match with ham, a cold joint of chicken, drink it poolside this summer or try it with family style Chinese. Rating: 89/99

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