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A Wine Odd Couple Signals Autumn

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For Labor Day weekend, I took a northerly drive to Minnesota and stopped in one of the many Cheese “Haus”es that line 90/94 throughout Wisconsin to pick up some gifts for my hosts. Since the best gifts, I always think, involve "when in Rome" local fare encountered on the journey, the white cheddar curds from a local dairy farmer outside of Mauston seemed the perfect journeyer's gift offering.

The next night, my guests served the curds (among other pre-dinner indulgences) as entree to a main course of grilled wild rice turkey brats from Ready Meats, the Northeast Minneapolis butcher near their home featured on Food Network’s “Best of…Butcher Shops.” Despite their usual appearance at football tailgates, both of these Midwest culinary classics had a little upscale spin to them (white cheddar cheese curds?), and seemed fitted to an everyday-familiar wine varietal with a streak of elegance. We matched it with one of my favorite Chardonnays -- Cambria’s Katherine’s Vineyard. This has been a long-time favorite, since the days I was selling wine, and it never disappoints.

Katherine's buttered popcorn-crispness and rustic oakiness complemented the creaminess of the curds, yet greeted the grill char of the turkey brats with equal bidding. I enjoyed the simple irony of wedding an elegant wine with the unpretentious food that went with it -- an odd couple of contrary complements.

Mostly, Katherine not only held up to her pairings, but she served as a bidding bridge between an evening, and season, that started out warm, and the chill that arrived as evening ensued -- a foreshadowing of what was autumn's upcoming arrival and what was to be summer's soon slumber.

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