The Perfect Partners
Posted on Tuesday, Sep 07 2010 - 12:00 am
It's always a challenge to figure out which wine to serve with what dish. At Noble Pig we believe there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to wine pairing. Always stick with what you like, but we do feel some wines served with certain foods can be a magical experience.
When you are starting the evening with olives, Marcona almonds and little cheesy bites, go out on a limb and give a fino or a manzanilla sherry a try. These bone dry, tangy sherries are the rage in their home country of Spain. Sadly they have never taken off in the Unied States, but you need to try them. You will be pleasantly surprised at this heavenly wine and food pairing. They really get the palate revved up for the upcoming meal. Champagne or sparkling wine is also a nice way to start off the night as it also pairs well with many pre-meal appetizers.
We've all heard it, only serve fish with white wine. It's not true and it's too general of a statement. The more appropriate question to ask is what kind of fish is it? Flounder and swordfish are polar opposites when it comes to flavor. How are you cooking it; grilling, poaching, frying, steaming? Will there be a sauce? Is it buttery, creamy or vinegary? When it comes to pairing fish and wine, apply the weight rule, match the weight of the food with the weight of the wine. Clean, fresh seafood needs clean, tangy wines. While pan-fried tuna and grilled salmon are amazing with Oregon Pinot Noir.
Again, like with the fish, a lot is dependent on how the meat is prepared. Roasted leg of lamb seasoned with rosemary, think Pinot Noir or Rioja. A spicy Moroccan meal prepared in a tangine, can be a little more tricky with all its aromatics and chili overtones. You will want to go light on the tannins and look for something up front and fruity such as a Grenache from the South of France or a Zinfandel from California. When it comes to anything gamey, you need an earthy wine. Pinot Noir from Oregon fits the bill nicely.
Normally a tangy white such as a Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc go nicely with many vegetables dishes. However, it is dependent on how the veggies are prepared. When it comes to roasted vegetables, wine that is more intensely flavored, aromatic and with good acidity is a nice choice. Pinot Gris or Riesling from Alsace work nicely. If the main dish is meat, stick with matching the wine to the protein. However, if salad with a vinegary dressing is taking center stage, a crisp, zesty wine is your best bet. I have to admit, our 2008 Pinot Gris is everything you could want in a zesty, crisp wine. You should try it.
I have two rules when it comes to wine with dessert. First, drink a wine that is as least as sweet-if not sweeter-than what you are eating. If you don't, you will lose the flavor of the wine in the sweetness of the dessert. Second, do not try to match wine with anything frozen. Ice cream and wine are not a match. However, I have an exception (all rules have exceptions), I once had a drizzle of PX (Pedro Ximenez sherry) over vanilla ice cream and it was amazing. One approach would also be to match up the flavors of your dessert with a style of wine. Sweet wines with a hint of honey go well with apricot, plum and peach desserts.
The greatest myth of all remains, that red wine and cheese go really well together. Now, let me say this, I have red wine and cheese together all the time. However, I believe white wine and cheese are a much better match. Try a sweeter style of sherry with Stilton or Sauternes with Roquefort. Goat cheese with a Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc or an oaky Chardonnay with a ripe Camembert.