Saturday, August 25, 2012

MRE Menu 4: Pork Sausage with Gravy

As one of the few MREs containing a pseudo-breakfast, this meal practically demands being treated like brunch, complete with outdoor dining and a flute of your favorite sparkling wine.  I will ride the wave of enthusiasm from the London Olympics and jump on the bandwagon with the professional wine press to recommend an English sparkler here.  Made with the same varietals and traditional methods as the areas across the Channel surrounding Reims and Epernay, these sparkling wines are often bottled by individual vintage year in lieu of attempting to create a consistent multi-vintage “house style.”

For a contrast, go to Spain and head to the west of Rioja toward Galicia, and find yourself in Bierzo.  Quality production of fine wines may be a recent trend here, but fortunately the mencía vines themselves are decades old, with some having passed the century mark.  An undercurrent of minerality supports powerful red fruits with balanced acidity and a hint of balsamic.

Complementary Pairing:  English Sparkling Wine, UK
Try:  Gusbourne Brut Reserve, Kent, UK
[]  This cuvée blends the three traditional varieties of chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier, a small portion of which is vinified in oak.  Contact with the lees for almost two years or more adds complexity and body to the presentation of stone fruits and precise acidity.

Contrasting Pairing:  Mencía, Bierzo, Spain
Try:  Dominio de Tares Cepas Viejas
[]  As the name of the wine implies, these are old vines, more than 60 years old to be specific.  The mencía from these vineyards will experience a severe triage prior to fermentation and aging in both new and old barrels from various sources.  Expect concentrated red fruits and just enough acidity to nicely slice through the fat in the pork sausage.