Sally and I recently returned from a vacation to Scotland and Ireland where wine lists were generally limited. Even the few restaurants that had a decent selection carried few, if any, of the California wines that we know so well. We were definitely out of our element when it came to our preferred strategy for choosing wine in a restaurant – sticking with what you know. (See our full list of strategies.)
We were fortunate to find a few French wines we actually knew while dining in Dublin at La Cave with our friend Darren. Our pick was a 2009 E. Guigal Cotes Du Rhone. This versatile, light-bodied red wine is a blend of 52% Grenache, 45% Syrah, and 3% Mourvedre. It paired well with trout, chicken, and lamb dishes and even made a fan out of Darren, who normally prefers white wine.
It was our first time drinking this wine, but we were still familiar with it in a roundabout sort of way. We’ve previously enjoyed a 2005 E. Guigal Chateauneuf-du-Pape with Sally’s brother and sister-in-law (see Best dinner ever?). Several months later, we purchased a bottle of the Cotes Du Rhone in hopes the quality would match the Chateauneuf-du-Pape, but we hadn’t yet tried it when we found it on the wine list at La Cave. Now, we feel fortunate to have another bottle in our wine rack at home.