I headed to my local wine store the other day and explained to the manager that I had an upcoming dinner party and wanted some wine. We talked about what I was planning to serve, which actually was quite a lot. It wasn’t so much the amount of people we were serving as who were serving it to, It was several people from my husband’s office, higher-ups that he was very keen on impressing. That meant I was pulling out all the stops: a bright and healthy spinach salad, some tasty herb roasted pork, delicious olive oil and rosemary red potatoes, and garlic artichokes with mozzarella. For dessert, I was planning to serve homemade lava cake. I wanted to also make a soup, but unfortunately the weather was a little too warm for what I wanted to make, so that got scrapped.

Anyway, it was a lovely menu, and I told the manager all about it so she could recommend something that went well with everything I was cooking. After some walking around and discussion, we finally settled on Cabernet Franc. There were some bottles from California, some from Bordeaux, and they had some from Chile and the Loire Valley too.

She let me taste a couple of the medium-range bottles – lucky for me that I am a good customer, I guess – and I was incredibly impressed. I found it to be lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, and had a really pleasant blend of strawberries, pepper, and plums. It was exactly what I was hoping for. I ended up choosing a twelve-year-old bottle from the Loire Valley that the manager assured me would be an incredible pairing with my rustic dinner menu.

I asked her what I should do as far as serving the wine went, and she told me that it needed to be decanted for about a half hour (or I should pour it through an aerator) before I planned to serve it. This would soften up the taste and even out the natural spicy flavors.

The salad was fresh and delightful, the roasted pork came out perfect, the potatoes were gone in seconds, and the vegetarian in the bunch adored the artichokes. The best part, for me, was that the wine went with everything so perfectly, it was like I had planned it all together! Honestly, this is absolutely my new favorite wine. If you get a chance to try some, I highly recommend it.

My husband was very nervous at the beginning of the meal, but when it was clear that everyone was enjoying both the food and the company, he visibly relaxed. By the end of the night, I thought that he was actually having a good time. I even got a huge thank you before we went to bed. Seeing him happy certainly made all the cooking and the hostessing and the cleaning up worth it.