What To Eat and Drink While Quarantined

There's no value in adding to the anxiety by stating the obvious about this moment we're living through.  Instead, a few suggestions on what to pair with your (hopefully) self-imposed isolation.

Before we get to the wines, the following simple measures have helped brighten these last, sometimes dreary days of winter:
  • Lemons: Put a bag or two of lemons in your grocery cart and use them for a jolt to your morning glass of water, the backbone of an herbed salad dressing, and a shower of sunshine squeezed liberally over your dinner.  The fresh juice will invigorate your senses and help lift your spirits.  And don't overlook the value of lemon zest as an ingredient to add some zip to your dishes.
  • Herbs: Buy a bunch each of fresh dill and mint, and use the same way you use the lemons.  Dill and mint in particular deliver a special kind of energy that'll tell your soul that spring is right around the corner.  They also make terrific companions to fresh lemon juice and liven up just about any course.  Pro tip: I can get a bunch of dill to stay fresh for a month in the fridge by washing and drying it while still bound, standing it up in a jar of water, and putting a plastic bag (zip lock or something of that size) over the whole thing like fitting a loose sock over a foot.
  • Red pepper flakes: These are typically in the domain of racy sauces, but used in moderation, they can add an eye-opening pop without burning you up.  Note: when adding to anything liquid, a little goes a long way.  Start slow and inch up.
  • Cherry tomatoes: Requiring nothing more than a quick rinse as preparation, toss a handful into whatever you're baking, and you'll have tiny bombs of joyous flavor on your plate at mealtime.  Fifteen minutes in the oven with whatever you're already cooking should soften them without bursting them open.
  • Kale crunch: Combining kale with multi-veggie slaws make for crunchy, versatile salads that force your jaw muscles back to life (a departure after winter's softer food textures) and make your digestive system happy.  My favorite cheat is to combine Trader Joe's crociferous salad mix with a bag of their broccoli/carrot slaw and dress with an Asian vinaigrette. 

Okay, so on to the wines.  These are all affordable and should be pretty easy to find from your favorite online retailer (my dominant mode of purchasing these days.)  More importantly, however, is that the common thread of these wines is that they all have terrific energy you can really taste.  If that doesn't put a smile on your face, then we'll have to check you for a pulse!

Okay, from left to right in the picture below...

2017 Montresor Bardolino Le Banche di San Lorenzo $15
This wine is so light in body and texture, it's like diving into a warm swimming pool.  But it's full of flavors that sparkle like sunlight refracted on the bottom of the pool.  At 12-ish% acohol, the sensation of drinking this wine is vastly different - and a very pleasant contrast - from rich winter reds.  Pretty sure this is a direct import from Total Wine & More, so if you can order from one nearby, that's your best bet on finding it.

2017 Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc Sonoma County $14
Tastes like really honest California sauvignon blanc that picked up some character from oak ageing.  And that's exactly what this is.  The time in barrel did nothing to suppress the wine's brilliant energy.  It's crisp with a tense grip without being serious.  Yum.

2016 Fattoria Rodano Chianti Classico $18
Recommended recently by Eric Asimov of the New York Times, the purity of this wine is extraordinary.  It's everything a Chiatni should be: expressive, fleet-footed, loaded with crunchy acidity, and as Italian as any wine could be.  Fanastic.

2016 Santi Valpolicella Ventale $12
This wine's older, bigger brother (the Solane ripasso) got some favorable press this past year, so I thought I'd give it a try.  As long as I was putting it in my shopping cart, I grabbed a bottle of this wine, it's younger, less-expensive sibling.  Now that I've had both, I think the wrong one got the press.  This valpolicella is more refined than almost any other $12 bottle I've had in years, and brims with vigorous energy without being overly tannic or boastful.  I'm odering more now from Marketview Liquor.