Spring is here. It’s time to dig out your favorite asparagus recipes and take advantage of this seasonal specialty at the peak of its flavor and freshness. However, it is the strong and wonderfully “green” taste of this vegetable that makes asparagus and wine pairing a bit of a challenge. (more…)
Cupcakes are more popular than ever – they come in many different flavors and styles and even have their own TV show! Serving cupcakes for a party or dessert is great. Pairing those cupcakes with wine kicks it up a notch to excellent. (more…)
June 28th, 2012 by eileen in food pairing
Fish and Wine Pairing can be a lot of fun. Light, nutritious and versatile, seafood is a fabulous summertime meal. It can go from skillet to skewer to sushi roll and every rendition offers a new taste treat. And there are a variety of white – and, yes, some reds wines – that are just waiting to be introduced to those delicious favorite seafood dishes. (more…)
October 15th, 2011 by eileen in food pairing
Pizza and wine are fast becoming the best of companions. Just about every type of food – seafood, vegetables, meat, fruit, and even chocolate – has become a topping. (more…)
October 8th, 2010 by jolan in food pairing
Pizza, the tasty delicious yeasted flatbread, is perhaps as ubiquitous worldwide as is wine making. The Italians have their classic pizza Napoletana, the French their salty pissaladière, the Chicagoans their hearty deep dish. And as varied as wine is, so is pizza with its plethora of toppings and crust variations. A good wine and pizza pairing lies mainly in matching the wine’s flavors and textures to the pizza’s toppings. (more…)
Labor Day is soon approaching, and backyard barbecues don’t need to have all the fun. Picnics are another great way to soak up the last of the summer sun. An easy way to spend a holiday afternoon, picnics require little more than some cutlery, finger foods, a salad or two, and a big blanket. A few bottles of wine, kept comfortably chilled in a small cooler, give an extra special touch to your Labor Day picnic. The following are some of our favorite picnic wines, perfect for the warm September sun and the various dishes of your finger-licking picnic feast. (more…)
June 18th, 2010 by jolan in food pairing
Welcome Friday, the quintessential night for tasty take-out like pizza and Chinese food (or Thai, or Mexican, or burgers from that new barbecue joint down the road). I’d like to offer a few wines for pairing recommendations, easily enjoyed with the Friday food classics. Simply swing by your local liquor store on your way to pick up dinner tonight, and you’re all set!
Wine and Pizza
Pizza might just be the epitome of Friday night dinners. Pizza, despite its myriad of potential toppings and variable incarnations, will usually feature a few staple ingredients: yeasted bread, cheese, and tomato sauce. The latter is what I find most important, when I think of basic pizza and wine pairing. Tomatoes are acidic, and slightly sweet – counter them with light, acidic reds. Italian wines like Dolcetto and Barbera are wonderful with pizza. If you’ve ordered a pizza with an assertively flavorful cheese, like feta or Manchego, try a Pinot Noir or Rioja.
Wine and Chinese Food
The spices and strong garlic found in Chinese food have most people running for a bottle of beer. While I wouldn’t turn down a cold bottle of Yuengling with a plate of kungpao cashew chicken, nor do I think a cool glass of wine would be impossible to enjoy. In fact, in some cases, it might be preferable. Err on the side of slight sweetness: residual sugar in wine helps balance the heat on your plate. An off-dry Riesling, Pinot Blanc, or Gewurztraminer would be lovely, as would a softly sparkling Chenin Blanc.
Note: If you’ve gotten Thai food this Friday night, you could opt for one of the wines above.
Wine and Barbecue
Barbecue: tangy, spicy, salty, sweet. You’ve got all the good stuff in one sticky sauce. Choose a red wine with spicy notes: Zinfandel, Shiraz, and red Rhone blends are all good options. In the world of white wines, a crisp, acidic white like Sauvignon Blanc goes well with grilled flavors. Super-spicy sauces again call out for slightly sweet wines (see above). Can’t decide whether to drink a red or white? Switch it up and buy a rosé. A dry rosé from southern France, like Provence or the Rhone Valley, can be refreshing while still being complex – and without breaking your wallet. After all, you’ll need to buy ice cream to complete your Friday night feast.
May 25th, 2010 by jolan in food pairing
There are those that say pairing wine with chocolate is best left undone, but if you genuinely enjoy both of these pleasures, then no terrible fate awaits you. True, pairing wine with chocolate can be tricky territory: dry wines with chocolate will often taste bitter or sour. As long as you try to keep lighter wines with lighter (both in color and intensity) chocolates, you’ll be headed down the right path. It may help, as well, to try wines that are a touch sweeter than their chocolate complements. To our brave, intrepid souls willing to risk the world of wine and chocolate, we salute you.
Bittersweet chocolate (70 – 100% cacoa). Bittersweet chocolate is dark, rich, and intense. Bittersweet chocolate can have fruity, nutty, spicy, roasted, bitter, and earthy flavors. Strong, fruity red wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Malbec can all pair well with bittersweet chocolate.
Semi-sweet chocolate (50 – 70% cacao). Semi-sweet chocolate, like bittersweet chocolate, is strong and rich with complex flavors. It is a touch sweeter than bittersweet chocolate, but still more bitter than milk chocolate. Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are great red wines to try, and Port is often exceptional with semi-sweet chocolate.
Milk chocolate. Milk chocolate has a smaller percentage of cacao and a higher percentage of sugar than bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate, rendering it sweeter and softer. Try milk chocolate with a soft red wine like Pinot Noir or Merlot; it is also delicious with Port or a dark ice wine.
White chocolate. Technically speaking, white chocolate is not true chocolate, as it is made without chocolate liquor. White chocolate is made with cocoa butter, milk solids, and sugar. It is creamy and rich, and would pair well with an off-dry Riesling or Gewurtztraminer, or an ice wine.
And don’t forget . . .
Chocolate ice cream. For your first official chocolate and ice cream pairing, start off with a less-sweet ice cream, like a bittersweet chocolate. Sparkling wines provide an interesting textural contrast, whose soft bubbles refresh your palate after every smooth, creamy bite. A rose, slightly sparkling Brachetto from Italy is a great choice, as is a demi-sec sparkling wine. Ice wines are another good choice.
April 2nd, 2010 by jolan in food pairing
Chicken is a food that pairs well with many wines; depending on the ingredients, the sauce, the cut of meat, and the cooking method, you can match chicken with almost anything. This simple recipe is calls for roasting a whole chicken, cut in parts, with shallots, mushrooms, and Dijon mustard. A full-bodied Chardonnay rounds out the flavors of this dish, playing well against the earthy shallots and the spicy Dijon mustard. Chardonnay is fantastic with cream sauces, and provides the perfect compliment to the light touch of heavy cream in this dish.
You can buy your whole chicken in parts, but it is less expensive to buy a whole chicken and cut it up yourself. All you need is a sturdy pair of kitchen shears, or a sharp, heavy knife, and a strong sense of determination. The bones make a great base for a homemade chicken stock.
With roasted cauliflower or stewed Cannelli beans and garlic, and a glass of Chardonnay on the table, this dinner is complete.
(Note: Leftover chicken makes for a mean chicken salad the next day.)
Roasted Chicken with Chardonnay
3 pounds chicken parts, with skin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ cup Chardonnay
¾ chicken broth
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoon finely chopped herbs, like chives and parsley
Preheat your oven to 450°F, with the rack in the middle.
Pat the chicken parts dry with a paper towel, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy, ovenproof skillet, over medium-high heat, just until shimmering. You’ll need to work in two batches to brown the chicken: first, skin side down, turning once. This should take about five minutes a batch.
Return all the chicken, skin side up, to the skillet, and transfer to the oven. Roast in the oven until the meat is just cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Move the chicken parts to a platter, and cover with aluminum foil. Now you’ll be getting to the simple cream sauce: add the shallots, garlic, wine, and broth to the skillet’s pan juices, and boil over high heat. Scrape up any brown bits, as these are locked full of flavor. Boil until the liquid is reduced by half, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the heavy cream, and boil until the sauce is slightly thickened, another minute or so.
Strain the sauce through a sieve, into a bowl. Whisk in the mustard, chives, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken, and serve.
March 31st, 2010 by jolan in food pairing
As you set the table for Easter this Sunday, please don’t forget one of the most delicious dinner components: a bottle (or two, or three) of wine.
With its myriad of possibilities, Easter dinner can pose a challenge to the person picking wines. I prefer to think of this challenge less daunting than fun; wine is just another food meant to be enjoyed as part of the complete holiday experience. If you’re looking for a little guidance, though, I’ve given some of the classic Easter dishes a few wine recommendations.
Riesling and Gewurtztraminer are both wonderful matches for roasted ham. Pork is a naturally sweet meat, and the glazes that often accompany a big hunk of ham, too, are packed with sugar: maple syrup, pineapple, honey and brown sugar. Both Riesling and Gewurtztraminer are white wines with enough acidity to cleanse your palate after every syrupy bite, while their floral and fruity aromas are fine compliments to the flavors on your plate. Many people are familiar only with sweeter versions of Riesling, but I recommend trying a dry Riesling with Easter ham. Riesling can be a tricky devil: if the bottle is not clearly labeled “dry”, and you’re unfamiliar with the producer, ask the shop clerk if the wine is off-dry or dry.
Lamb, all white fluff in green pastures, is a quintessential symbol of spring. In the kitchen, lamb can be prepared in a whole slew of ways: roasted, stewed, braised, grilled, stuffed – whatever your preferred manner of making lamb, you can surely enjoy it with a glass of wine.
Red Bordeaux and Bordeaux-type blends are great matches for lamb, as is Syrah (aka Shiraz). A roast lamb develops deep, caramelized flavors in the oven, and common marinades include rosemary, thyme, and garlic. Bordeaux and Syrah are powerful, full-bodied red wines, whose tannins help cut the richness of the dish, and whose aromas of herbs and spice compliment the lamb’s sauce.
If you prefer a softer red wine for your tender spring lamb, I recommend trying a Pinot Noir or a red Rioja. Pinot Noir is less tannic than Bordeaux and Syrah, and thus will have a smoother feel in your mouth; the wine’s complexity, though, means it can still be a fine compliment to red meat. Rioja is from Spain, another medium-bodied red wine that pairs beautifully with lamb.
The Easter basket: replete with chocolate, milky and dark, jelly beans, and those chewy yellow chickens. Ice wines are delicious with chocolate: try a Riesling ice wine; Cabernet Franc is also a delicious choice. Drinker, beware: sometimes dessert wines are super-sweet, and while tasty with a bite or two of chocolate, may be rich enough to enjoy as a course in their own right.