We discovered that the 2008 Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir (about $17 at big-box stores) goes beautifully with Bell & Evans fried chicken at a new restaurant that we got all swoony over last week. We have long been fans of New Zealand sauvignon blancs but hadn't paid much attention to its pinots. That is an error we are now enthusiastically correcting.
This light red wine beguiles from first sniff with a pretty bouquet of scents led by ripe black cherry accented by black pepper and underpinned by subtle herbal grace notes. On the tongue, juicy cherry is right up front then shades into cherry cola nuanced with hints of black pepper and gunpowder tea. The finish is medium long and satisfying, smooth and dry with a trailing whisper of dark chocolate to close the deal.
In addition to perfectly juicy organic fried chicken, this pinot will go well with crispy crust mac and cheese, citrus-marinated tuna steaks done on the grill or jambalaya.
By Colette and John Bancroft. She is the Times' book editor, and he is a freelance writer specializing in food, wine and travel. For an index and archive of reviews, go to pictograph.com.