Wine label art has become a genre of modern art all to itself and is a topic on which whole books could be written. It’s become a fun pastime of mine to peruse the shelves of my local wine store admiring the labels on each bottle and wondering about the meaning behind each image. I like to look at labels through an analytical lens in the same way someone might decipher the meaning of a poem. While many wines have elaborately illustrated labels without mention as to what the pictures represent, there’s also much beauty in simplicity. The first is like an epic poem, so full of fluff that it struggles to keep the line and measure in its extravagance while the latter is a crisp and perfectly executed Haiku. Of course, it goes without saying that no matter how compelling the artwork on the label, the wine inside must be equally, if not more, delicious, complex, interesting. All of these properties converged perfectly in this Rascal 2019 Pinot Gris. The simplicity of the label is what first caught my eye – on the top, a dog with a halo. You know there must be a good story behind the picture. I turned the bottle over and read that Rascal Wine gives back a portion of the proceeds to animal shelters and rescue organizations across the country. It’s no secret how much I love our rescue dogs. That sealed the deal.
I’m am so happy I picked up this bottle. It’s a delicious, dry Pinot Gris out of Willamette Valley, Oregon. On the nose, soft and delicate wisps of green apple, honey and river rock. The wine opens with a fresh vibrance, like snapping into a celery stick. There are subtle notes of yeasty bread, light lemon, bergamot and dried apricot. The finish is crisp and refreshing.
My Synesthetic notes: Imagine, upon your first sip, there’s a textured paper of pure white, on which, a quarter of the way down, wide, horizontal watercolor strokes of the palest lemon yellow begin appearing. Gradually the shade grows deeper, into a rich honey brown near the bottom of the paper. Each wide brush stroke is punctuated by a line of cobblestone grey, stretching horizontally from one end of the canvas to the other. These grey striations are each flanked on both sides by a needle-thin stripe of luminous peacock blue bleeding delicately into the yellows above and below.
But now back to the picture on the label because that’s where this story started. The wines are named Rascal after the winery’s precious Golden Retriever, a cherished companion who would greet customers with the kind of open acceptance and love only dogs know how to give. It was in his honor that this wine was named and in his memory that the winery approaches the growing and winemaking process – with love, care and attention.
Rascal Wine believes passionately in finding loving, forever homes for dogs across the nation and, as such, donates a portion of their sales to The Humane Society of the United States as well as to other national and local animal welfare charities. Read about them here.
With a glass of wine in one hand and some Milk-Bones in the other, I toasted our own rescue dogs, Nandor and Lita, both of whom we adopted from American Belgian Malinois Rescue. (Don’t worry, Queen Natasha was well rewarded, too.) We will absolutely be buying several more bottles of this Pinot Gris to put away in the cellar. In the meantime, I paired this wine with a rotisserie-style roasted chicken, new potatoes that were roasted in the same pan and some quick, caramelized pearl onions.
I hope you enjoy this wine and the following recipe. Cheers!
Rotisserie-Style Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
- 1/2 pounds small, red new potatoes, rinsed
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 (3 – 4 pound) chicken
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled
- 1 bay leaf, broken into several pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp dry thyme
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp butter
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used the Rascal Pinot Gris)
Preheat the oven to 375 F / 190 C.
In a large roasting pan, place the potatoes. Cut the onion in half. Set one half aside and cut the other into thick wedges. Place the onion wedges in the pan with the potatoes. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss the potatoes and onions with your hands, then spread them to the edges of the pan.
Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Place the chicken in the center of the pan.
Mix together the salt, paprika, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder and black pepper. Sprinkle a large pinch of the spice mixture inside the cavity of the chicken.
Place the reserved half of the onion inside the chicken cavity along with the broken bay leaf and the smashed garlic cloves.
Gently separate the skin from the breasts and use a long spoon to spread some of the spice mixture between the skin and the breast meat. Cut the butter into two equal pieces and place between the skin and the breast meat.
Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together and gently tuck the wing tips beneath the body of the bird. Drizzle the chicken with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and rub with the remaining spice mixture.
Place in the oven and roast for 1 hour 15 – 20 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, remove the chicken from the oven and pour in the white wine. As it mixes with the pan juices, use a basting brush to baste the chicken with the liquid. Continue roasting. The chicken is done when a meat thermometer placed in the thigh reads 175 F / 24 C. Cover the chicken with foil and let rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. Serve with the roasted potatoes.