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Pinot pairs with a wide variety of cuisines. Debbie Israel Wiens, Carmen Micheli and Judee Jachim Smith Photo: Corie Maue

There are many great things about Pinot Noir: typically a lighter bodied wine with a bit of fruit and earth on the palate with just enough tannins for balance.  The best thing about Pinot Noir, however, is its flexibility.

Pinot Noir is the pinch hitter in any wine cellar, ready to fit in where ever it is needed.  Seafood, turkey, barbecue and lamb all pair nicely with this Red and most Pinots are quite drinkable all on their own.  Invited to a party, but not sure what the host is serving?  When in doubt, go Pinot.

The Women’s Wine Council sampled several Pinot’s at a recent gathering and here are my favorites of the night in random order.

1.  Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir.  With lots of raspberry and a bit of smoke on the nose, this medium-bodied red gives way to plum and cranberry on the palate.  Short term again in French and Oregon oak impart slight carmel and nutmeg, giving the wine depth and nuance.  ($7 SRP)

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The Big Green Box Chardonnay Photo: Corie Maue

Pepperwood Grove also features a line of Green Box wines worth a second or third look.  Eco-friendly packaging is gaining a reputation as a sound choice for winemakers as well as consumers and Pepperwood Grove is on the front lines of the movement.  Bring their The Big Green Box Chardonnay to your next neighborhood pot luck – you will be glad you did.

2.  Buena Vista Pinot Noir Vinicultural Society Sonoma 2010.  This beauty is the definition of a food friendly wine.  The Women’s Wine Council enjoyed it with spicy sausage pizza, crackers with fig and cheese, dried passionfruit and a multitude of other flavors and textures.  With aromas of raspberry and cherry that open into rich, full cherry flavors, this Pinot was also very drinkable on its own.  Hints of earth, shiitake mushroom and a bit of herbaceousness add complexity and interest.  ($16 SRP)

3.  2007 Vergari Pinot Noir Van der Kamp Sonoma Mountain.  Voted one of the top Pinots of the year and awarded 92 points by Wine & Spirits Magazine, this Red bears witness to the time and dedication that goes into making a Pinot.  Winemaker David Vergari notes, “You don’t have to be crazy to make Pinot Noir . . . but it helps.”  With a bold ruby color and cherry and spice on the nose, this fruit driven Pinot was a perfect match for my Goat Cheese and Fig appetizer.  Sour cherry flavors prevail with nuances of earth and spice on the palate.  ($39 SRP)

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Vergari Pinot with Goat Cheese Appetizer Photo: Corie Maue

Readers can get a special discount on the Vergari wines by following these instructions: Go to the website, www.vergariwines.com.  The Home Page will appear…click on “New Release Club” The New Release Club page appears…click on “Members Area” which will take you to the order page.

In a “white goes with fish, red goes with meat” world, Pinot Noir breaks the rules and builds bridges, deftly pairing with all types of cuisine.  One part adventurer, one part “sure thing,” these versatile Reds make it easy to Go Pinot.

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Buena Vista Pinot Noir Vinicultural Society Sonoma 2010 Photo: Corie Maue

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Corie Maue

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Author Bio:

After working in all aspects of the food and beverage industry for 20 years, Corie has developed an adventuresome spirit and palate.  As an avid home cook and a member of the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association, she keeps an eye out for new trends in food, wine and travel so she can share her discoveries with her readers. In addition to her own Blog, www.LifeHalfFull.co (Balanced Living in a Slightly Off-Kilter World), she is a freelance writer, contributing food, wine and news articles to several on line and print publications.