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By The Glass
Chuck Furuya

Two wines to pair
with a special meal

A friend called recently asking for advice on wines to pair with a dinner that her chef-boyfriend was cooking for her family. As is usually the case with such special home-cooked dinners, the many ethnic flavors and techniques made wine pairing challenging and therefore all the more fun.

Here are a two wines that I suggested; you could consider them as well, to make a special meal more complete.

2003 Cusumano Insolia: Here is a dry, bright, fresh, delicious, lively white wine from Sicily. It is especially well-suited to simply prepared seafood, such as you would commonly find along the Mediterranean basin.

I recommended this wine to pair with fresh clams steamed in a simple garlic-onion-herb broth with a little butter added at the last moment. The wine's lemony edge would interact with this dish just as a squeeze of lemon would -- cutting through the "clammy-ness" and oiliness while cleansing the palate between bites.

This value-oriented Sicilian white wine could also be paired with simply prepared fish, shrimp, scallops, crab or lobster -- and with many other such dishes that would normally benefit from a squeeze of lemon. The good news is this wine retails for about $11 a bottle. If you eat a lot of seafood, it's a good idea to always keep a bottle in your refrigerator.

1999 Michele Satta Cavaliere: Michele Satta is one of the premier vanguard wineries of the completely en vogue Bolgheri region of Tuscany. On my last trip to Italy, I saw the Michele Satta wines in all of the top (and progressive) wine stores, restaurants and enotecas (wine bars).

The winery's reds have terrific intensity, concentration and innate complexity, and the winemaking is truly superb. Il Piastraia is Michele Satta's award-winning showpiece cuvee, but in 1999, I preferred the Cavaliere bottling. Produced from 100 percent Bolgheri-grown sangiovese grapes, it has a rustic scent, with earthy qualities intermingled with the autumn-leaves nuances typically with sangiovese.

Interestingly, the aroma suggests power, but the wine is remarkably elegant, well-textured and sumptuous. Although a pleasure to drink by itself, Cavaliere would be a welcome partner to roast chicken or veal scallopini with wild mushrooms. I could also imagine savoring this provocative red wine with something more homey, such as meatloaf with a simple tomato topping.

The best news is that this wine retails in Hawaii for roughly $22 a bottle, which is quite remarkable -- I saw it in a top fine-wine store in Bolgheri for $65 to $75 a bottle!

Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier and a partner in the Sansei restaurants.

This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to features@starbulletin.com

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