Hit & Miss: Emblem 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon with Tamale Pie & Lamb, Eggplant & Fontina Pasta

Wine: Emblem 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: Napa Valley, California

Taste: Juicy, succulent and sappy, this Cabernet Sauvignon aims to be everyman’s wine. It satisfies the connoisseur with its classic black currant notes and pacifies the anti-tanninist with its rounded mouthfeel. Everything is moderate in this wine, which could mask its identity. However, the fruit’s Napa-ness withstands the winemaker’s wish, clearly showing its origin.

Expectation: Grilled meat and fat are typical solutions for Cabernet Sauvignon pairings, but this wine needs something different.

Hit: Tamale Pie
This wine’s generosity of fruit and lax tannins provide perceived sweetness on the palate. (The wine is dry.) The Cabernet flatters this fat-laden dish with some juiciness, and surprisingly, this rich entrée doesn’t need the palate-cleansing properties expected of most wines. Even better, most young, higher-end Napa Cabs would be levitating with oak, but this wine doesn’t cede an innuendo.

Miss: Lamb, Eggplant and Fontina Pasta
This was a dare. I was certain the flavors would blend brilliantly, and – happily – they did. The question was whether the dueling richness of the wine and pasta would tump the match overboard or brilliantly cancel each other out. In this case, it was the former. This indulgent dish begged for acid, and the wine just didn’t have it.