Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2005 (North Coast; $36). Lovely core of pear and crisp apple flavors, with rich yeastiness underneath and effervescent lemon on top.
White with the First course
Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Napa and Sonoma Counties; $32). Bright, complex citrus and stone fruit, with a rich core from a little Semillon blended in (the traditional white blend in Bordeaux).
Cab choices for the main event
Robert Sinskey Vandal Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (Los Carneros, Napa Valley; $48). Lively cassis and dark berries play over a foresty bed of juniper, cedar, and mocha flavors.
Robert Sinskey “SLD” Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (Stags Leap District, Napa Valley; $85). The winery’s showcase wine―elegantly structured, with complex layers of dark plums and cherries, cedar, and espresso.
Spottswoode “Lyndenhurst” Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (St. Helena, Napa Valley; $60). A plush wine with classic cassis, dark chocolate, a touch of cedar, and fine tannins.
The Girls in the Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Red Hills, Lake County; $20). A great-value, fruit-driven Cab made by old friends of the Sinskeys. A little mint and a few herbs lurk under juicy black cherries.
Maria's cab tip 1
Cabs tend to be large-boned. A fat-rich, meaty rib roast stands up to the weight of Cabernet and tames the tannins.
Maria's cab tip 2
Most Western Cabs are made in a soft, young-drinking style. All it takes to open them up is a few good swirls in the glass.
Maria's cab tip 3
Serve red wine on the cool side, and let it warm up in the glass. There’s no greater sin than to serve a red warm.