Friday, January 10, 2020

An Unlikely Match: A Thai Favorite + A Qvevri-Aged Wine from the Republic of Georgia #GodforsakenGrapes #WinePW


This month, I am leading the Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers on an exploration of so-called 'godforsaken grapes.' Inspired by reading the book of the same name by Jason Wilson, I invited the group to dive into these lesser known varietals. You may read my invitation: Let's Go (Wine) Geeky & Explore #GodforsakenGrapes for 2020's First #WinePW.

All of the #WinePWposts will go live between Friday, 1/10 and Saturday, 1/11. If you are reading this early enough and would like to join our conversation, we'll be using the hashtag #WinePW at 8 a.m. Pacific time on Saturday. Participating bloggers and others interested in the subject can connect via a live Twitter chat. It's a nice bring way to bring in others interested in the subject. Hope to see you there. Just be sure to use the hashtag so we can see your tweet.

Here's what the #WinePW will be posting for my #GodforsakenGrapes challenge...

An Unlikely Match

If you tend to follow the adage - 'what grows together, goes together' - then this pairing couldn't be more disparate. The dish comes from Thailand while the wine hails from the Republic of Georgia. But it worked! It really, really did.

In the Glass

I tracked down this bottle - 2016 Wine Thieves Rkatsiteli - when I was working on an orange wine post. Then I realized it would be perfect for this event, so I uncorked it for this instead. I'm always up for drinking an orange amber wine!

The first thing that piqued my curiosity was the name of the vintner: Wine Thieves. So, I did some research. It turns out that there was a short film made in 1975 titled Gvinis Qurdebi ('Wine Thieves'). In the movie four mischievous townsmen sneak into a stingy neighbor’s wine cellar, break into his qvevri (enormous ceramic urns) and start drinking the stored wine. As they grow more and more inebriated, they turn rambunctious with load toasts and raucous singing. The neighbor awakens, but ends up joining in their merriment.

It is in that Georgian joie de vivre that Avto Kobakhidze, Givi Apakidze, and Zaza Asatiani have come together to take other people’s wine and sell it under their own label, Wine Thieves. They jest that there's is "the finest quality Georgian wine ‘stolen’ exclusively for you,” though, obviously, nothing is actually stolen. The trio purchased wine from individual winemakers, bottle, and sell it.


The second thing that intrigued me about this wine: I was completely unfamiliar with the Rkatsiteli grape. Wilson writes, "While many Americans have yet to hear about rkatsiteli, it's actually very widespread in the former Soviet states, which more than 100,000 acres planted - and this even after Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev ordered millions of wines uprooted during the 1980s" (pp. 269-270). Wilson also explains that he was cautioned against calling it 'orange' wine. "Lisa Granik, a Mater of Wine from New York, asked us not call them orange wines. 'I plead with you to call them amber,' she said, adding that many consumers heard 'orange wine' and believe it to be wine made with oranges" (pg. 278).

A little more research revealed that rkatsiteli is a white grape whose name literally translates to 'red stem,' inspired by the reddish hue its stalks develop near harvest time. The grape is wildly popular in its native country and vines are grown in practically in every wine region within Georgia’s borders.

The grape is used to make Georgian wine in the traditional way - in qvevri or enormous clay vessels. The grapes are pressed and placed in the qvevri with juice, skins, stems, and all. The qvevriare sealed, buried in the ground, and left to ferment for many month. The resulting wine, from the skin contact, is amber-colored and slightly tannic. Qvevri literally means 'that which is buried' and is how the vessels differ from amphorae which are not buried.


In the glass, this wine was a brilliant marigold color with an earthy aroma of clay. Not surprising given its aging vessel. However, Jake was surprised when he tried it; he thought it would be sweet given its heft. But it was tannic and vibrant with a meaty texture. 

On the Plate

I could see this wine going well with roasted duck or even heavy cream sauces. But I decided to pair it with  one of our favorite Thai dishes: Kao Pad Bpu or Thai Crab Fried Rice. It's a family favorite!


My only issue this time around was that Jake wasn't home to clean the crab for me. He's so much faster at it than I am! Here's How to Clean Fresh Crab...in case you've never done it. I kept the carapace just for the photos. I initially was going to serve in the shell, but there was too much rice. Traditionally this would be cooked in a wok; I always use my enameled cast iron braiser.

Ingredients serves 4 to 6

  • 1 to 2 T oil
  • 1/2 C red onions, peeled and diced
  • 2" knob fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 4 C cooked rice (I like using red rice, but I used white rice for this version)
  • 1 to 2 T butter
  • 1/4 t white pepper
  • 3 T fish sauce
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 3  eggs, beaten
  • 1 to 2 C cooked crab meat, divided
  • 1 T finely chopped chives for garnish
  • lemon wedges for serving

Procedure

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until beginning to soften and turn translucent, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the ginger, then the garlic. Cook until fragrant and the garlic just beginning to turn golden. Stir the cooked rice into the pot, making sure that the aromatics are well-combined and the rice is warmed, especially if you are using cold, leftover rice.

Place the butter in pats on top of the rice. Whisk the eggs and pour them over the rice. Stir the rice until the egg is cooked and incorporated. Season with white pepper, fish sauce, and soy sauce.

Fold the crab meat into the rice, reserving 1/2 C or so for the garnish.


To serve, spoon fried rice onto a platter. Scatter the remaining crab meat over the top. Sprinkle with chives and place lemon wedges on the side.


I served the Kao Pad Bpu with a green salad and some roasted green beans on the side.


Next month, Jill of L'Occasion will be hosting the #WinePW group as we head, virtually, to Savoie. Stay tuned for more information about the theme she picked.

7 comments:

  1. Great and interesting wine you select. It's so fun when the label says dry white wine on this Rkatsiteli but your pour out wine of amber color. Also the crab and rice dish looks so yummy.

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  2. This crab fried rice sounds delicious. I'll use canned crab LOL. I know you love your orange wines. I'm happy you enjoyed this one.

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  3. love that you can explore different regions to pair with not so expected pairings. Glad you were adventurous enough to try!

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  4. This dish sounds phenomenal and I can absolutely see it working beautifully with Rkatsiteli. I loved the read and the topic -- thanks so much for suggesting!

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  5. Your crab-fried rice looks amazing! Great tip on referring to skin-fermented whites as "amber" rather than "orange" (though I tend to call the skin-fermented whites - which is a bit of a mouthful). Thanks for the great topic! How much was the Wine Thieves Rkatsiteli?

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  6. Thanks so much for inspiring us with this awesome topic. Your unlikely match looks and sounds amazing!

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  7. Looks like a nice rose:) and perfect with your crab fried rice.

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