Our Wine of the Week, Lang & Reed 2010 North Coast Cabernet Franc ($24), makes me think of a summer night in New York City.
The wine is bright and refreshing, with pretty acidity and soft tannins. If you drink it at cellar temperature -- in the summer, this can mean putting it in the refrigerator for a bit -- it works beautifully with the lighter fare we want in hot weather.
As I sip, the wine calls to mind a late-night dinner in Manhattan, around 11 p.m. or so, when it was finally cool enough to eat.
Our wine, a lovely red quaffer from the south of France, arrived at the table perfectly chilled, and it was a great hedge against the thick humidity of August on the East Coast.
This cabernet franc can serve the same role here.
The wine is deeply colored, with a deep violet hue that hints of the midnight sky.
On the palate, there's a clean brightness that resolves into suggestions of cool red fruit followed by dried herbs, especially oregano and lavender.
There's a buoyant quality to the wine as well, a lightness that belies its darkness in the glass.
On my own, I would never reach for a cabernet franc in the summer, but this beautifully-made wine is a lovely match with many of the season's fruits and vegetables, from green beans and eggplant to roasted peppers and ripe tomatoes.
Almost anything with blueberries and blackberries will welcome the wine, and you can even enjoy it with watermelon in the right context, such as a salad of watermelon, mint, red onion and feta.
For today's recipe, I'm taking inspiration from the classic Greek salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and onions, but with a twist.
Instead of using the traditional feta cheese, I'm using Haloumi, a salty cheese that holds up beautifully when fried. The cheese is often served with watermelon, mint and toasted pine nuts, but it is equally good in an all-savory context.
For the best pairing, be sure the wine is somewhat cool.
Greek-Inspired Salad with Fried Haloumi
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 very small red onion, thinly sliced
-- Kosher salt
2 tablespoons best-quality red-wine vinegar
2 red peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded
1 cup, approximately, Armenian cucumbers in small chunks
1 cup, approximately, ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half lengthwise
-- Extra virgin olive oil
8 ounce package Haloumi, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
-- Black pepper in a mill
4 to 6 slices hearth bread of choice, toasted
Put the onion into a small bowl, season with salt and add the vinegar. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes.
Cut the roasted peppers into 1-inch wide strips.
Arrange the peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and olives on a serving platter or individual plates, leaving room for the cheese, onions and bread.
Pour a little olive oil into a heavy skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the cheese in a single layer and fry until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and fry until golden brown and hot all the way through. Working quickly, transfer the cheese to the platter or plates.
Add the onions.
Sprinkle with oregano.
Season all over with salt and pepper, tuck the bread alongside and serve immediately.
Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM.
E-mail Jordan at email@example.com. You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.