Castle Rock California Cuvee Pinot Noir: The New “Beer” for your Bratwurst

Memorial Day weekend calls for grilled brats.  But questioning the beer-and-brats combination is like walking on sacred ground.

What makes the beer/brat combo work so well?  Perhaps it’s the fatty, salty brat’s contrast with the crisp, clean beer.  Maybe it’s the casual, mustard-smeared brats paired with a carefree, drink-from-the-bottle beverage.

I opened four wines looking for the perfect brat and wine combo.  First up was the Freixenet Extra Dry Cava.  I hoped the crisp acidity and effervescence would mimic the beer experience.  Flavors of green apple and lemon with a hint of almond and yeast are found in this crisp, lightly sweet and lively sparkling wine.  It did a fine job of cleansing the palate and handling the saltiness of the brats.  Still, something about the grapey fruit on the finish was not as pleasing with the brats as beer.

Next, I opened the Graff Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling.  Germans love their bratwursts, so a slightly sweet Riesling from the Mosel region in Germany made me hopeful.  Pleasing aromas of apricot and limestone with a bit of honeysuckle are followed by flavors of sweet peach, apple and honey with a clean, citrus finish.  The sweet fruit of the Riesling brought out the sweet spice of the brat and the two mingled nicely together.

The Predator Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi was sure to be a good match with its distinctive aroma of smoked meat, spice, and rich dark berries.  The wine’s texture is thick and is loaded with blackberry flavor along with smoky spices.  The bold style of this wine, however, was overwhelming to the brats.  And, although the meaty character was appropriate for the brat, the jammy berry flavor was not so pleasing a match.  I could see the Predator pairing better with smoked pork slathered with a sweet barbecue sauce.

Finally, Castle Rock California Cuvee Pinot Noir was opened.  This value-priced Pinot is sourced from several California vineyards and presents light aromas of smoke and spice along with dried cherry.  The palate is soft, yet full of black cherry and spices which mingle with a touch of smokiness on the finish.  The hint of sweetness from the cherry was perfect with the sweet spices of the brats and the wine’s finish of spice and smoke matched the grilled flavors of the brats.  The acidity of the Pinot Noir kept everything clean.  The intensity level of the wine’s flavors matched the intensity level of the food.  Even the low cost of the wine kept it all casual for the backyard grilling experience.

This Castle Rock Pinot Noir is THE new beer for your brats!  No drinking this Pinot straight from the bottle though–I still recommend a wine glass!

About the author: Sue Navratil

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