It’s been quite awhile since my last food and wine post. In an effort to get healthier, we’ve cut back a lot on our food and wine fun, both at home and out. But, it’s all about moderation so there have of course been a few quality pairings over the past few weeks.
Wine pairing at home can be just as much fun as it is at a nice restaurant, but if you’re like me, you’ll have less of a selection with which to work. My suggestion is to examine the wines you have and think of dishes that would complement those bottles. If you don’t have any wine at home, decide what you want to eat and then head to your favorite wine buying establishment where the sky will be your limit. It takes a little more effort than choosing from an expertly curated wine list, but that just makes the results all the sweeter.
Keeping it Classic
Several Fridays ago we had our first cold snap, and a whole bunch of rain. That sort of weather always makes me crave a warming stew and a glass of silky smooth red wine. I made this boeuf bourguignon in the crock pot, a semi-clean version of the French classic. As a pairing, we pulled out a very special bottle of 2010 Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Reverie Vineyard & Winery in Napa, where we went on our magical honeymoon two years ago.
This pairing is so classic, I knew it would work. But honestly, you could pair anything with this truly phenomenal Cab and it would be good. It was also nice to reminisce on our time in Napa and have a proper date night meal at home.
My Go-To Cheap Rosé
A slightly less polished pairing happened a week or so later, with a bottle of $5.99 La Ferme Julien rosé purchased at Trader Joe’s. One of my favorite cheap rosés, this wine is also incredibly versatile (and also pretty delicious by itself). For this pairing we went with Parmesan baked chicken (with greek yogurt instead of mayo – wellness win?) and butternut squash pasta (this recipe).
The creaminess of the pasta and rich flavors of the Parmesan chicken were perfectly balanced by the acidity and fruitiness of the wine. Cheap, easy, delicious. Wine pairing need not be high falutin.
When Experimentation Pays Off
Our last food and wine win of late may just have been my favorite. I know most of the basics of wine pairing, but sometimes I like to experiment a bit. For example, spicy foods like this chicken tikka masala we had earlier this week, tend to pair really well with a sweet or semi-sweet white wine like a Riesling or Gewurztraminer. We didn’t have any sweet wines in the house (I don’t enjoy them except with food, so rarely keep them around), but we did have a bottle of Ingleside Petit Manseng purchased on our recent trip to the Chesapeake Wine Trail (more on that in an upcoming post).
Petit Manseng is a French grape, typically used for blending, that is really making a name for itself in Virginia. It can be made in a sweet or dry style, winemaker’s choice. I’ve had delicious versions of both, but tend to favor the dry (Glen Manor also makes a fantastic dry Petit Manseng). Whether sweet or dry, Petit Manseng offers explosive fruit tropical fruit flavors, so it will always taste a bit “sweet” just based on its flavor profile. I had a feeling that this wine, with its pineapple and citrus flavors, would still manage to offset the spiciness of the chicken tikka masala we paired with it. And I was right! It was excellent.
And… an Outtake
Sadly, not every attempted pairing is a success. For another Friday date night at home, we had a delicious dinner of pan seared steak, cheesy risotto and roasted asparagus. I was craving a nice, bold Merlot to go with it and asked Tom pick something up at Harris Teeter while grabbing a few other groceries. The Red Rock Red Blend he chose at a reasonable price point seemed like a promising choice.
This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Syrah was just far too jammy for my taste, and would have overpowered our meal. We had to abandon the hope of a good pairing, and of finishing the bottle. It just wasn’t the kind of wine I enjoy, although I’m sure to many it’s perfectly palatable. You win some, you lose some.
Other Food + Wine Wins on the Web
This German schnitzel and spaetzel recipe sounds delicious, with pairing recommendations for both wine and beer lovers.
Don’t make my Merlot mistake, try these pairing suggestions courtesy of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.
Today is Global Champagne Day, whatever that means. For my local readers out there, Young Winos of DC has a list of where to celebrate. Everyone else, I suggest pairing your bubbles with oysters. Yum.