Our Wine of the Week, Thomas Fogarty 2012 Monterey County Gewurztraminer ($19), is so very pretty, with an evocative brightness on the palate that feels like a spring morning, with fragrant flowers in bloom everywhere. If you pay attention, you may notice hints of honeysuckle and orange blossoms in the wine's bouquet and flavors of lychee, rambutan, pomelo, lime zest and fresh galangal root on the palate.
The wine is delicate, a whisper not a scream. But what it is saying couldn't be more clear: Please, pair me with sweet spices, with coconut and dried fruit, with salty nuts and vegetables that have been roasted to concentrate their flavors.
It is saying biryani, a somewhat elaborate Indian rice dish. You don't have to go that route to enjoy the wine; it is a great aperitif, with, say, Marcona almonds and dried apricots alongside. It is also excellent with dal, chicken masala and almost any kind of mild curry. It is also lovely with traditional Peruvian ceviche.
But the marriage made in heaven, the pairing that makes the wine soar, is biryani. Please don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients; it is not a complicated recipe, just one with layers of delicate flavor. No special skill is required to make it successfully.
Makes 6 servings
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup broccoli florets
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into thin half rounds
2 medium carrots, preferably white or pale yellow, peeled and cut into thin half rounds
5 tablespoons clarified butter
— Kosher salt
1 teaspoon white mustard seeds
1 large onion, peeled, trimmed and grated on the large blade of a box grater
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne or other ground hot chile, to taste
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
— Black pepper in a mill