Some further thoughts on wines & foods

I find that so exciting that more and more people than ever ask me for advice on what wine to serve with their meal, whether in their home or dining out.  Not only can wine make food taste better, but food can make wine taste better too. And, for the adventuresome, the possibilities seem endless.

Here are some ideas which I hope will spur further interest into this subject.

2014 Chateau des Deux Rocs Rose–is a dry, fairly masculine, earth nuanced pink wine from the hills of southern France near the Mediterranean.  One can smell the wild countryside that surrounds the vineyards which adds to the interestingness of this wine. Where many people are still quite apprehensive of wines colored pink, if you closed your eyes and then tasted it, I think most tasters would think it is white, perhaps with a little more stuffing and mojo. The role at the dinner table I am really hoping wine lovers will consider, is keeping the palate refreshed and attentive, just as cranberry does at the Thanksgiving feast.

Consider, for instance serving this wine with Roasted Bone Marrow—simply roasted with salt, pepper and bread crumbs. At VINO, we serve it with roasted Roma tomatoes, braised short rib ragout and Nalo Farms greens tossed with lemon vinaigrette. Although we originally added this dish to our menu for red wines because of richness and savoriness, I now find roses like this actually a more interesting pairing.

Another dish one could have fun with by serving this wine would be octopus marinated in olive oil, rosemary and garlic and then braised in red wine to tender. At VINO, we season with cumin, cinnamon and extra virgin olive oil before serving in a ham hock stew. The wine really works its magic with the octopus, the stew is optional. As a side note I love octopus and regularly enjoy roses as long as there is no Asian inspired qualities to the preparation.

For more comfort, homey foods, these kinds of pink wines also work with all kinds of pizzas, especially those using tomato sauce bases. In addition, try wines like this with richer soups such as oxtail, pig’s feet or beef luau (no coconut please).  I also greatly enjoy well chilled roses for the barbecue occasions. They help off set the heat and certainly quench the thirst, all at a reasonable price.

2014 Maior de Mendoza Albarino “Fulget”–is a wonderfully perfumed, dry, captivating white wine from Rias Baixas, Spain. I adore the wine’s enticing, exotic aromatics which is greatly accented by the uplifting edge the minerality adds. From my point of view, these kinds of really fragrant nuances uplift foods, just as fresh herbs would. And, to make a pairing with this wine even better, one just has to add fresh herbs to the dish, as they will just connect and create great synergy and electricity which will surprise you.

Consider, for instance, just seasoning and then searing a fish like mahimahi in a very hot pan with a bit of olive oil, 2 minutes on one side, and another 2 minutes on the other (time is dependent on how thick the fillet is and how hot the pan is). Set the fish aside, deglaze the pan with white wine, add some lemon, reduce and just melt in some butter and finish with a generous sprinkling of diced fresh herbs. To make this an even more eye opening experience, now try this dish with a Californian Chardonnay, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and this wine. Most tasters will be familiar with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc and what they do with foods. I am hoping, though, you will have a whole new experience when the fresh herbs connect with the Albarino and the wine’s lemony edge cuts through the fishiness and oils of the fish. And, when one considers the price, hopefully, you will add yet another wine to your dining table repertoire.  One could easily do similar kinds of pairings with shrimp, scallop, crab and lobster dishes. The key is really the fresh herb sprinkle and no oriental ingredients.

2013 Sella Mosca Cannonau de Sardegna Riserva”–is a wonderfully delicious, wildly rustic Grenache based red wine from the picturesque isle of Sardegna, located off the west coast of Italy. Here is yet another “country” styled red wine, which greatly over delivers for the dollar.  Not only is this wine so tasty and interesting, it can work with a wide range of foods because of its lush, rounder edges. You will find “country” styled wines like this really do have an amazing affinity with a wide range of foods.

Consider comfort foods like meat loaf, red pasta dishes and pizza at home and roast chicken like we do at VINO, with a Tuscan bean stew or with savory pork chops dishes are also pairings worth experiencing.   At home, we like to barbecue sausages and serve them with roasted red and yellow peppers (a dash of red wine deglazed and a bit of fresh thyme) with wines like this.   In each case, I would recommend you stick the bottle in the refrigerator for 8 minutes or so, before serving.

Along the Mediterranean basin, having wines with these kinds of foods is a way of life. Hopefully, this will help encourage you down that road. I really think one can have a lot of fun and interesting experiences pairing wines and foods, without a lot of fanfare.

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