When friends come over, I like to make this quick, easy appetizer and serve it family-style on a big white platter while everyone enjoys sauvignon blanc as the accompanying aperitif. The shrimp and fennel's fresh, lively flavors pair perfectly with sauvignon blancs that are medium-bodied, sassy, herbal, and citrusy. In particular, California sauvignon blancs are best here. Don't forget to squeeze the lime at the end of the recipe. It's the flavorful ribbon that ties the food and wine together.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel, salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic, and bay leaf; cook 5 minutes or until fennel is crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Add red pepper and shrimp to pan; cook 3 minutes or until shrimp are done, stirring occasionally. Stir in lime juice. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.
Perfect wine: Try St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc 2002 (Napa Valley, CA), $ This very crisp wine has snappy, fresh flavors reminiscent of green figs, melon, herbs, lime, and fennel--a perfect fit with this recipe.