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Friday Fishwrap
Great Ideas For This Weekend’s Tipple

By Charles Olken

It’s the long weekend. The Bay Bridge is closed so I am sticking close to home. We have completed the September Issue of Connoisseurs’ Guide (look for it to go live here on Sunday). And it is time to relax.

On Friday night, we are going to sit back, watch our favorite English mysteries on the local PBS channel and drink some sparkling wine. Friday night is sort of our celebration night, and it often passes with a stiff dram of single malt or, on heated up nights like tonight promises to be, a gin and tonic. But, with the Issue to bed and our tasting schedule moving into sparkling wine, I have a taste for the bubbly with my Friday night pupus (for those of you not Hawaiian, pupus are hors d’oeuvres). I drink two kinds of bubbly. For occasions in which an outlay of substantial dollars is required, it is either top-end California or grower-bubbly from Champagne. And, I do have a bottle of Poet’s Leap Late Harvest Riesling in the fridge. It is so sweet and luscious that it is dessert in and of itself. The bottle will last Mrs. Olken and me most of the weekend.

On Saturday night, it is the neighborhood Labor Day Weekend get-together. There is a conspiracy of sorts afoot to have all of the neighborhood grillers put out their favorite salmon by the whole side cooked slowly with any number of tasty adornments. As the wine host for the neighborhood, I am going to supply three choices this year. The first will be lighter-styled Pinot Noirs with generous acidity. Those wines have long been my go-to choice for Pinot Noir.

Then there will be Chardonnay for those who prefer a dry white. I generally choose a rich yet balanced Chardonnay for barbecued salmon. The smoke and the seasonings want more depth in the accompanying wine, and while I like a brisk Chardonnay as much as the next guy, my wine preferences for the salmon I expect to see this weekend will carry a bit of richness.

And finally, there is my secret weapon. A slightly sweet, high-acid Riesling, whether from Germany, California, Washington or Australia brings the richness in a different guise. Rather than oak and ripeness, these wines pay their dues with the brilliance of well-made Riesling and its incredible ability to carry so much acidity that its sweetness is nothing more than part of the overall balance.

The rest of the weekend already looks like a blur from here. Maybe a ball game, which, for the Olkens means beer and bratwurst. I cannot always get what I want at the ballpark, because if I had my druthers, I would partner the “brat” with a Belgian style “trippel” of which my favorite is Unibroue La Fin du Monde. There is a slightly fruity, citrusy aspect to this strong, well-hopped brew, and it is predictable that some of it is going to cross my palate at some point in the next few days.

The beauty of long weekends with lots of friends around and a variety of events to inspire a healthy thirst is the many good tipples that are going to be consumed.

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