A Food and Wine Conundrum

Posted on: July 22nd, 2010 by

Caymus Conundrum
I was sent a sample of Conundrum for my drinking pleasure; it’s probably the most iconic non-Chardonnay California white wine. It has been years since I tasted Conundrum; all I remember about it was that it was a little too sweet and heavy for me. But with an open mind and empty stomach, I went about reintroducing myself to Conundrum.

The appeal of Conundrum is that you don’t really quite know what’s in there and in what amount. (Thus the name.) I’m willing to bet it’s a blend (duh) of some highly aromatic grapes like Muscat and Gewurztraminer, some Sauvignon Blanc for zip, and probably some Chardonnay, too, for richness and body. (Click here to find out what grapes are used. Cheater.) Since it was suggested I enjoy Conundrum with spicy food, I went about creating a couscous and black bean dish with zucchini, onion, and tofu in a spicy, Indian-influenced tomato sauce.

First, my thoughts on the wine: it certainly wasn’t as sweet as I remember. While there is definitely a touch of residual sugar (RS), I’d be willing to bet most California Chardonnays in its field probably have the same amount of RS. It is a medium to full-bodied white, with a little oak on the finish. The more I thought about this wine, the more I came to see it as probably the best California Chardonnay for under 30 bucks. I know, it’s not a Chardonnay. For me, it’s what all California Chardonnay should aspire to: aromatic, rich, and balanced. And in an era of 15%+ alcohol Chards, the Conundrum is a food-friendly 13.5%.

How was it with the food I prepared? OK. I think due to its weight and oak, it’s not so great with spicy food. The oak gets more pronounced by the spice. If I had a brain, I would have tasted the wine first and then went shopping for dinner. I regret not doing this because I think Conundrum would kill with the following:

  • lobster roll
  • Dungeness crab salad
  • chilled, poached shrimp with a mayo-based dip

And you would preferably be enjoying one (or all three) of these dishes outside on a warm day, under the shade of an umbrella. Conundrum solved!

Have you had Conundrum recently? And do you agree with my assessment of its compatibility with spicy food?

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