dining_birichinoMalvasia Bianca 2009

“You can’t be too rich, too beautiful or too birichino”–or so says John Locke, wine director at Soif wine bar in downtown Santa Cruz. Locke is also the winemaker of this lovely crisp white wine, and, along with business partner Alex Krause, have bottled something frisky and very drinkable. I thought it the ideal libation to try with some of Soif’s imaginative cuisine.

Meeting up with some friends on a Monday evening at Soif is a delicious way to start the week. Mondays can be a bit flat, but not at Soif. With soft “Gypsy jazz” from Hot Club Pacific playing in the background and plates of scrumptious oysters begging to be devoured, we toasted good times (and Good Times!) with a bottle of Birichino.

And does the Birichino go with Moroccan food? The answer is yes. My husband and I had been invited to friends to dinner, so I bought another bottle ($15) to take over for them to try. The dry wine perfectly complemented the rich and spicy flavors of the Moroccan food, and I loved the soft floral bouquet when I swirled the wine around the glass.

Labels are a huge selling point and the Birichino, which, Locke tells me, means naughty or impetuous in Italian, is very eye-catching —a floral fantasy of white, green and gold. “A very good wine with a great label is a winning combo,” says Locke. The back label goes on to say, “Of classical Greek origin, Malvasia threaded her way through the forests of Calabria before slipping ashore in California under cover of darkness. Her fragrance of jasmine, lime blossom and elderflower suggests something quite sweet and sybaritic, though as the first sip passes the lips, she is revealed as bone dry, crystalline and clear.” How profound and poetic, but sometimes good wine leads us in that direction.

So all that’s left to say is if you want to try some Birichino Malvasia Bianca, then head on over to Soif where John Locke will be waiting to sell you some.

Birichino Amici, King City, Calif. birichino.com. Soif Wine Bar & Restaurant, 105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-2020. soifwine.com.

Wine Events

The Capitola Book Café is hosting a special wine and cheese event on Monday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. The good news is that serious cheese monger Sasha Davies will be promoting her fabulous new book “The Guide to West Coast Cheese,” and some interesting local cheeses will be available to taste, along with some unusual wines.

Capitola BookCafe, 1475 41st Ave., Capitola, 462-6297 (events line), 462-4415 (store line). Capitolabookcafe.com.

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