Happy Hour wines at River Grill

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I always find wine that I enjoy at River Grill, and during their Happy Hour specials, you also are certain to find an agreeable glass of wine to pair with their well-priced appetizers. I’m there a lot, so I’m sharing my favorites with you, although the offerings do change.

The 2009 Viognier from Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery is an unfined and unfiltered wine with grapes sourced from the Gimelli Vineyards, Cienega Valley of San Benito County, California. This is a great area for growing Viognier, and the results are good. This Viognier (say: vee-ohn-YAY) is full bodied and dry, combining rich flavors of ripe apricots and peaches with the aroma of honeysuckle. It is a lovely golden color. Some Viogniers can be too sweet, but this is not. 14.5 percent alcohol. $26 per bottle.

The La Fiera 2001 Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy is fresh, crisp, floral and fruity. Flavor of peach and apple, with a minerality on the finish that makes it a great pairing with salads, chicken and seafood. 12 percent alcohol. $6 by the glass, $22 for the bottle.

We paired both these whites with the tempura green beans, and a salad of pear, Gorgonzola and pecans.

The 2010 Snapdragon Pinot Noir, California, is fruit forward, easy drinking with flavor of ripe cherry, berry, and a hint of mocha. The bottle tells the story of the name: “Legend has it . . . long ago, a farmer befriended a dragon using the creature to guard his crops from raiding poachers. Each harvest, the spirit of the dragon lives on, inspiring the creation of these delicious wines.” 13.5 percent alcohol. $7 by the glass, $26 for the bottle. Paired well with the mac and cheese.

I encourage you to try a Tempranillo, as this Spanish-origin grape is becoming more popular with growers in the Sierra Foothills. The 2011 Bodega Venta Morales Tempranillo is 100 percent Tempranillo grapes from the La Mancha area of Spain. It has ripe dark fruit, deep color, and a long and balanced finish. This wine is made in small batches. 14 percent alcohol. $6.50 for the glass, $24 by the bottle.

River Grill is located at 55 West Lake Blvd. in Tahoe City. Happy Hour is daily from 5 to 6:30 p.m. until June 13; and daily from 5 to 6 p.m. afterwards for the summer. Dinner reservations are recommended and may be made by calling (530) 581-2644. For details, visit rivergrilltahoe.com.

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Barbara Keck
Barbara started writing for newspapers when she was 14 and continues to write, most recently the “Wineries of the Sierra Foothills” book published by Range of Light Media, parent company of The Tahoe Weekly. Barbara wrote the wine column for the Weekly for many years, and contributes occasional tidbits on tourism and entertainment topics. A long marketing consulting career that included extensive international travel led her to conclude that Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Almost 20 years of enjoying the seasons on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe has confirmed her belief.