Tasty, dependable Sonoma County chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon with a special birthday mixed grill and risotto

For my birthday this year I fired up the grill, no surprise (although I use three: tghe grill, with a turbo searer burner; the the regular range; and a combination oven — convection dry heat, microwave, and a combination of both of those). For most meals I use at least two of the three cooking methods along with a wide variety of pots and pans; just so you know!).

One guest eats poultry and fish but not red stuff. I love slow-grilled chicken thighs on the bone, so we had an even dozen of those. They were marinated in soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and two vinegars — white wine and balsamic. Several minutes before they were finished I brushed them with a peach jam with no sugar, only kept moist with peach nectar. I cooked the thighs on the raised warming grid found on many grills, which allows for slow oven-roasting, actually.

With the chicken I served grilled turkey sausages with Italian herbs, dividing each in two. I’d have loved to have sauteed-with-white-wine chicken lives, also; but you know how that would’ve gone over. So I didn’t.

The mixture was mounded on a bed of slow-sauteed onions kept moist with a marvelous fig balsamic vinegar a friend had given us. Tasty, pretty presentation. I used three fairly large onions, so you’ve gotta know people liked them because I had way too few leftovers.

On the stovetop I made a fake risotto with light sour cream and (shhh!) some heavy cream, with a lot of grated asiago cheese and, when served, a generous grating of fresh nutmeg. Rice keeps soaking up liquid so, as usual, I refreshed the “risotto” with Two Buck Chuck (Charles Shaw) pinot grigiot. (People often ask, “What’s in there?” and they’re amazed at what’s in there.)

Both wines, a gift from my niece, Sherry, accompanied this country barbecue very well. Sherry and Ron, out of pure love, buy us better wine than we buy for ourselves.

The Clos du Bois  2008 North Coast chardonnay was, as advertised, bright with apple and pear flavors. It’s nice and round with enough well-balanced acids to keep the fruit and light oak on the palate for a few minutes. The winery suggests roast chicken as a good match for this chardonnay.

Rodney Strong 2007 Sonoma County cabernet sauvignon suggests cherry and black olive aromas and rich warm ftuit and spice on the palate. Sonoma County has pockets of warm air and soil suitable for fine Bordeaux wines like this one. It might surprise you that it easily made friends with the creamy risotto.

Steamed florets of broccoli, with carrot coins, rounded out the meal. People say they like to eat here, and I love to cook; so it was a great way to celebrate. reaching 78 years.