I love that it's my job to help get tasty wine into people's lives, and one of the cool new ways we have to do that at Sunset is our wine...

Sara Schneider, Sunset wine editor  – March 2, 2016

I love that it’s my job to help get tasty wine into people’s lives, and one of the cool new ways we have to do that at Sunset is our wine club, Firstleaf. On our site, you’ll find three great California bottles in our first offer: Wente Vineyards 2014 Riva Ranch Chardonnay, Hawthorne Grove 2013 Pinot Noir, and Owl Ridge 2012 “Tyto” Cabernet blend. But we aim not only to get good wine into your life, but also to make it star on your dinner table!

It’s a good day here in the office when there’s food coming out of the test kitchen that needs wine paired with it. (Doesn’t everything? Happy to take one for the team on this front.) Today, though, my starting point was these three club wines, and my search was for the dishes that take them to the next level. Turns out three of Sunset’s all-time faves do the trick!

For the Wente 2014 Riva Ranch Chardonnay: Shrimp with Bacon-Cheese Polenta. The sweet fruit in this California Chard just loves shrimp, as well as the corn polenta. The wine is rich enough to handle the bacon and cheese, but vibrant enough to cut through the richness at the same time. And what’s not to like about shrimp and bacon and polenta together?  And cheese—did I say cheese?

For the Hawthorne Grove 2013 Pinot Noir: Pancetta Salmon Kebabs with Parsley Vinaigrette. The juicy red berry fruit of this Pinot is a great foil for pungent salmon; the silky texture of the wine hugs the fish as well, while the spice in the pancetta makes the spice in the wine pop. I’m afraid I double-porked the lineup with this one, but hey, what kebab doesn’t get a little better wrapped in pancetta?

For the Owl Ridge 2012 “TYTO” Red Blend: Cabernet-Braised Short Ribs with Dried Apricots. The tannin structure of this Cabernet Sauvignon—based blend calls out for the kind of fat marbling that short ribs offer. And the dried apricots in this version pull out the tangy cassis fruit in the wine. This is a cold-weather, crowd-pleaser of a marriage—jump on it while we still have some winter!

And there will be more … great wines and pairings. Sip with us at Firstleaf!