Pairing Off Fries

Scheid Vineyards’ 2015 Isabelle sparkling wine owes its dazzling spirit to the centuries-old méthode champenoise from France’s Champagne region.

It’s not so strenuous, but quite demanding. Once you have still wine—in this case Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in near equal measure—the juice is bottled and racked to ferment. For the next 30 months, Marta Kraftzeck and her winemaking team at Scheid riddle the wine.

No, this is not Frank Gorshin as the 1960s Riddler taunting Batman and Robin.

Batman, reading a skywritten riddle: “What has yellow skin and writes?”

Robin: “A ball-point banana!”

Batman: “What people are always in a hurry?”

Robin, pondering: “Rushing people…Russians! I’ve got it! Someone Russian is going to slip on a banana peel and break their neck.”

Batman: “Exactly, Robin! It’s the only possible answer!”

Aah, if only.

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Riddling is the tedious process of giving each bottle a quarter turn each day in order to disturb the lees (dead yeast cells and other particles created in the fermentation process). When ready, the bottles are disgorged, meaning turned upside down so the lees settle in the neck for removal, and then topped off.

And this is the wine Scott Kuramura of A Taste of Monterey on Cannery Row would have us sip alongside a mess of fries—potatoes slivered and dumped in hot oil.

“My favorite with potato chips is sparkling wine,” he says casually. “That would be the one I’d go for. Definitely sparkling.”

Kuramura adds that for a more lighthearted experience, the sparkling Rosé from Folktale would be a fun option. Both would contend with the salt and accouterments—mayonnaise, ketchup or aioli.

“You want something clean,” he points out.

The fries, from Hula’s Island Grill on Lighthouse in Monterey are Russets with a light dusting of salt and sheen of oil—so popular they sell by the basket.

Scheid’s 2015 Isabelle streams aromas of green apple and curing apricot, with a stoney wash of saline and hint of toast. It’s a wine worthy of elegant balls—do those still exist?—with brisk fruits leavened by honeyed brioche, effervescent salinity and a musty minerality that stands on the finish.

The wine pairs as promised with French fries. It slices through the fat, leaving a clean, fruity sensation on the palate. With layers of salt—genteel from the wine, brisk and popping on the potatoes—in concert, the stannic foundation gains more attention, which works nicely with the faint earthy sweetness of the fries.

And you have an excuse to finish off a bottle of sparkling wine on a lazy afternoon of television and a mess of fries.

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