Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall Food & Wine Pairing of the Day: Gruyère and J Vineyards' 2011 "Hoot Owl" Viognier

"Who are you, October," asks poet Al Young, and we'd really love know the answer. The nights grow crisp and our appetites sharper during this mysterious month, so for the next few weeks we'll be featuring food and wine pairings that celebrate the unique alchemy of autumn.

One of our favorite pairings this fall is a nice Gruyère with our 2011 Viognier from the famed Hoot Owl Vineyard in the Alexander Valley
Gruyère, of course, is a Swiss cheese with a mild nutty flavor that perfectly rides the line between subtle and distinctive. It plays beautifully against the fresh fruit aromas of the Hoot Owl Viognier and the wine's lush mouth of silky vanilla mingles seamlessly with Gruyère's gentle earthiness. 

Gruyère is one of the best cheeses for baking, so we love it in a gratin like this Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin from Smitten Kitchen or this Wild Mushroom and Onion Gratin by Epicurious. A bubbling layer of Gruyère would make the perfect topping for this delightfully dark French Onion Soup from The Kitchn and we've even been known to succumb to the guilty pleasures of this Gruyère Spinach and Artichoke Dip.

Gratins make great party fare because many of them can be prepared the day before and popped in the oven just before guests start arriving. Serve with thinly sliced toasted baguette and you have an easy, mingle-friendly first course. If you'd like to step up the celebratory atmosphere, serve your gratin with some J Cuvée 20 Brut, too. Enjoy!

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