Dinner WITH MOM! – Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Chianti with Pesto Pasta, Sautéed Squash, and Olive Crackers

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This week, my sweet mother and I enjoyed a meal together. (EXTRA CREDIT?) I was in Tulsa for an interview at Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine (EEEK) so I figured we would make a nice meal together. We haven’t had a meal together since we were in Europe at the beginning of August!

For this meal, I prepared Rosemary Triscuits with pesto mozzarella and pitted assorted Greek olives for an appetizer. The pasta dish was whole grain rotini with pesto, crushed pine nuts, and parmesan cheese, with a side of butter-sautéed zucchini and yellow squash with red pepper flakes. All of these dishes were delicious!


Franzia – Chardonnay – There is not much information about this wine on the box – $15.99

Winemaker Review: A crisp wine with a clean finish. Semi-dry and medium bodied. Serve chilled. Complements chicken, simple pastas and seafood.

La Crema Monterey – Pinot Gris – Monterey, California, United States – 2014 – $20.99

Critic Review: Chipped chalk, wet stone, lime spritz, nectarine flesh and grapefruit pith show on the fairly light nose of this easy-drinking wine. The palate shows an intriguing texture, with apple and pear skins that evolve toward fleshier peach tropicality as the sip lingers.

Bernardino – Chianti – Arezzo, Italy – 2014 – $15.99

Critic Review: This blend of 90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo and 5% Malvasia Nera offers ripe black plum and black tea scents. The firm palate displays black currant and clove flavor, supported by clenching tannins.


This Chianti is from Arezzo, Italy when I studied abroad in 2016. I didn’t realize until I was eating this meal that this wine was not meant to be aged 4 years like it did… When I initially purchased this wine I thought I would keep it and drink it on a special occasion some day when it has had time to mature fully… But this wine is meant to be drunk immediately. Oh well, now I know in the future that most wines shouldn’t be old!

This Chianti was very low in tannins and had a slightly sour aftertaste. It kind of reminds me of stomach bile, like when a bad wine makes it way back up – if you know what I mean. Not a fan… I remember liking it a lot more when I tasted it at the vineyard in Italy. However, I didn’t have a refined pallet at that point (and I still don’t), so what do I know? I can sense the red berries, though, and slight spice. The Chardonnay was citric and refreshing. My mother says it was buttery and mellow with notes of apricot. She has been drinking Franzia Chardonnay for as long as I have known what wine is, and I spent much of high school stealing glasses from the box. It’s funny that we are now discussing what might be the worst wine brand ever made, and for school. Finally, the Pinot Gris was a gift from my mother’s friend and was very nice! The winemaker’s descriptors were comically odd – chipped chalk, wet stone, “tropicality” (not a real word, by the way). I liked the crispness of this wine and the clear pear flavors detected throughout. There was a sharp acidity to it, kind of like lemon but also grapefruit. I liked this Pinot Gris more than the last one I had! La Crema is a good quality wine and is worth the price.

The crackers paired best with the Chianti. They were very VERY salty and oily with a small hint of spice from the rosemary, which paired well with the acidic bile taste of the wine to make the bile taste disappear and the sweetness come out. The Chardonnay was too crisp for it, and I think a sweeter wine would be more appropriate. The Pinot Gris was similarly gross with the acidity of the wine. The sautéed squash was slightly spicy because of the red pepper flakes, so it also went well with the Chianti! It brought out the spice in the wine and complemented it nicely, rather than competing for flavor attention. The Chardonnay and Pinot Gris also went decently well with it, but the spice competed with the acids in these wines and made it harsh on the back of the throat. It felt a little hard to choke down, but the beginning flavors were tasty. With the Chardonnay, the buttery flavors compounded on the buttery flavors in the squash and was very smooth. The Pinot Gris was more harsh throughout because it lacked those buttery flavors. Finally, the pesto pasta was tastiest with the Chardonnay, because the acidic flavors were able to cut through the saltiness but the buttery flavors mellowed it out and made it blend well. If I were to choose one wine for this meal, I would choose Chianti, however. The Chianti brought a level of sweetness to the meal that I would not have gotten otherwise. Overall a delicious meal!


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