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The Wine List

August 30, 1992|Dan Berger

Rule No. 37 for matching food and wine: the spicier the food, the softer the wine. And by softer, I mean either lower in alcohol or slightly sweet.

Orleans doesn't offer tonsillectomy-hot food, but it's spicy enough that some people would automatically suggest beer with it. I love wine with it, as long as the wine is the right wine--a soft wine.

Fortunately, there are a number of them on the well-selected and reasonably priced Orleans wine list, starting with the perfect choices: 1991 Navarro Riesling, $18, and three Gewurztraminers--1990 Grand Cru, $17; 1991 Claiborne and Churchill, $17, or 1991 Fetzer, $14. The Fetzer is a bit too sweet for most of the food here, but the Claiborne and Churchill wine is one of the best I have ever tasted and a perfect match for any spiced food.

You might also try 1990 Beringer Chenin Blanc, $15, or any of the three Sauvignon Blancs (not as great a match, but an elegant counterpoint). If Chardonnay is your thing, the one that best goes with this food is 1990 Meridian, $18.

Red wines, with their tannins and higher alcohol, might be a challenge for some of the spicier dishes, but the attractive R.H. Phillips Cuvee Rouge, $9.50 for a small 550-milliliter bottle, is a wonderful accompaniment to a wide variety of the dishes here.

Nine wines are offered by the glass, with prices ranging from $3.50 to $5.50. The bottle list is mostly California wine, with a few low-priced imports.

Most of the wines are priced in the $15-to-$25 range. For those who want to bring a special wine from a private cellar, corkage is $7 a bottle, which is not excessive.

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