Nut Case

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erika_newheadshot.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Erika Heinemann is nuts.

You'd have to be to leave a comfy job as chef at one of Napa's best-known wineries to start from a business from home making and selling...nuts. Well, wine nuts, to be exact. Heinemann, a professionally trained chef who's logged time on the line at the French Laundry, left Duckhorn Wine Company several years ago to start Savvy Wine Food, a food-and-wine-pairing business headquartered in the Napa Valley.
Food and Wine Flair
But turns out she's not quite as crazy as she sounds, because when I first met Erika at the 2006 Auction Napa Valley TASTE event, I fell hard for her nuts. Made in two styles to pair with red and white wines, respectively, the nuts are addictively good - the result, Heinemann reports, of extensive tasting to find just the right combos of ingredients to bring out the subtle flavors in wine. Her "Seasoned Nuts for Red Wine" feature California Mission almonds and an appealing blend of spices conjured to complement the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zin and hearty California Pinot Noir. Her "Seasoned Nuts for White Wine" include almonds as well as cashews and pistachios and play off the more mellow flavors in Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. You can find them at the likes of upscale Napa food retailers such as Oakville Grocery and the Oxbow Cheese Merchant, or snap some up online at Erika's site, savvywinefood.com.

After all, there's nothing nutty about scoring something new and great to go with your next glass of wine.

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