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A red wine acting like Champagne? Jason Quinn of Playground has found it

June 14, 2013|By S. Irene Virbila
  • Jason Quinn, chef/owner of Playground in Santa Ana.
Jason Quinn, chef/owner of Playground in Santa Ana. (Jason Quinn / Playground )

Jason Quinn is chef/owner of Playground in downtown Santa Ana. In February he opened Playground 2.0 next door, which is really a pop-up space, he says, where it’s a different restaurant every night.

When I talked to him, that night 2.0 was called Mama Roux and serving Cajun and Creole food. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, it's invitation only and prix-fixe. Quinn is always exploring wine matches with his ever-evolving menu. One wine that caught his fancy lately is Grotta del Sole Gragnano della Penisola Sorrentina.

"It’s a lightly sparkling red wine with just the perfect acidity to drink all day. I know it comes from the Naples area of Italy where it’s commonly served with pizza." At 2.0, we were doing a dish called otokomaie — “acting like buffalo”— with a high-end Japanese tofu that had incredible texture, almost like bufala mozzarella. So we did tofu with 25-year-old balsamic vinegar, a beautiful olive oil and flake salt. And we served it with the Grotta del Sole Gragnano and called it “red wine acting like Champagne.”

That’s when I started drinking it all the time. If I were drinking a Cab, I could maybe have one or two glasses, but with this stuff, I could drink a bottle or two a night.

So it turns out there’s more to Italian frizzante wine than Lambrusco. There’s this weirdly intriguing red wine from Campania as well.


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