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Labor Day Sides 7

Butternut squash and apple Waldorf salad. The side dish can act as a compliment to a grilled main course for Labor Day.

Usually we plan to prepare a particular dish, and then think about what wine would pair well with it. Sometimes, however, it works the other way around.

When you try a Chardonnay with distinctive apple and lemon you might think to yourself, “This might go really well with a Waldorf Salad.” Let’s pursue that, and while we’re at it, let’s look at a top-quality vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills known for Chardonnay production.

Rita’s Crown Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills was planted in 2007. It is located at an elevation of 600 to 950 feet on a dramatic southwest-facing slope, making it one of the highest vineyards in the Santa Rita Hills AVA. The site is particularly exposed to coastal fog and cool marine winds from the nearby Pacific Ocean, ideal for producing premium quality Chardonnay. The soils are sandy loam with ancient seashell deposits, which contributes to the hallmark minerality found in the wines. We could literally call the Chardonnay coming from this vineyard, a “high flyer!”

Although summer has officially ended and fall has arrived, just about every ingredient in this salad is grown locally and can be found at local fruit stands and farmer’s markets – apples, lemons, celery, walnuts, and raisins. Here’s the recipe:

Waldorf salad

6c crisp green apples, chopped

1/3c lemon juice

2c celery, chopped

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1-1/2c walnuts, chopped

1-1/2c raisins

1c mayonnaise (slightly thinned with water)

Really, the only trick to this is with the apples and lemon juice. As soon as you chop the apples, place them in a mixing bowl, juice a couple of lemons, remove the seeds, and pour over the apples. Mix thoroughly. This will minimize the discoloration of the apples.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Pour out remaining lemon juice if you like; I leave mine in.

Go light with the mayonnaise. Thin it out with water until it barely pours. You may find that you can get away with a little less mayonnaise than called for, and present a lighter salad.

Pair this Waldorf Salad with Ken Brown’s 2016 Rita’s Crown Vineyard Chardonnay. This stunning Chardonnay offers expressive aromas of poached pears, apricot, green apple and crème brûlée accented by hints of cinnamon stick and orange zest. The palate features enticing flavors of persimmon, Meyer lemon, honeysuckle and a hint of seashell. The rich texture is harmoniously intertwined with a crisp acid profile. The silkiness and complexity of the wine carry through to an opulent, yet bright finish.

Ken Brown’s “old world” approach to making Chardonnay adds just the right touch of richness and depth to complement the vibrant character of the fruit. The grapes were handpicked and gently pressed as whole clusters. The wine was 100% barrel fermented with 100% malo-lactic fermentation and aged sur lie for 11 months in French oak. Enjoy!

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John David Finley is a free-lance writer and author of the cookbook, Sacred Meals from our Family Table, which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at jd.finley53@outlook.com

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