Posts Tagged ‘Pairing’
As grilling season is upon us, the task of pairing wines with your favorite backyard foods can be intimidating, but is actually quite simple. Grilling is centered around meat, which holds two characteristics that are important wine pairing. The first is flavor. For heavy red meats like steaks and lamb, the most dominant flavor will always be in the meat itself, even with the addition of marinades and spices. Chicken and fish, on the other hand can be easily overwhelmed by their marinades, sauces or spices. As such it is always important to recognize the dominant flavor of your foods and pair to those.
The second important characteristic is the heartiness of the meat itself. If you are grilling fish, vegetables or chicken, you will want to match those with a lighter bodied wine. Steak, burgers, or other red meats will pair well with heavy bodied red wines.
Here are some suggestions:
With Red Meats, Barbecues & Game
These meats call for fuller-bodied styles of wine. Beef and lamb in particular tend to be complemented by tannic red wines. However, the sauces served also affect the choice.
Powerful reds such as Shiraz or Zinfandel
Beef (hamburgers, steak au poivre, or in pastry)
Powerful, full-bodied Zinfandel from California.
Beef (roast beef or steak)
Full-bodied Shiraz, Cabernet or Cabernet-Shiraz blend.
A good-quality Pinot Noir from Oregon or Sonoma.
A good-quality Cabernet Sauvignon.
Good Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet-Merlot blend.
Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or light red wines
Spicy reds like a peppery Shiraz
Lighter cool-climate reds such as a pinot noir from Oregon
I must say I love Christmas, every year I attend numerous Christmas parties, dinners and host one or two my self. When my friends are coming to my house for a dinner, I am always looking forward to see what wine they bring and how well they did their home work in researching wine pairing for a seasonal feast.
So to help YOU pass the test I am going to give you some helpful tips for how to impress your host this Christmas season.
I personally like to start with a glass of sparkling wine, but this is a subject on its own, expect to see a blog before a new year regarding this subject.
Now lets start with the whites. Christmas time is all about comfort food and quite frankly that is all about butter, cream, potatoes, meats and gravy….so here you need to deliver wine to match the weight of the food. Chardonnay is a great wine to pair with big foods. Personally I would choose some of the new world Chardonnays from Napa or Sonoma, Chile and Argentina. These wines are full bodied, creamy and buttery, with loads of exotic fruit and floral notes.
If you are not a big fan of Chardonnay, you can tune down the boldness by selecting a White Bordeaux blend (a.k.a White Meritage) whitch is usually a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion. These wines have an essence of tropical fruit with smokey, woody characteristics. But they have enough body to match heavy foods while still remaining crisp and refreshing. An American version of Sauvignon Blanc known as Fume Blanc is also great alternative except in some wines the smokey under tones may over power.
And now the reds. This is an interesting subject since you may want to choose one wine that you can pair with turkey’s white and dark meat, ham, vegetables and all the fixins. Believe it or not there are wines that go great with this diverse traditional Christmas menu.
In my opinion Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir (a.k.a. Beaujolais) and Cabernet Franc fit the bill. These are not full bodied wines most of the times but they have a great level of acidity, and bright fruity feel to them. They also have dominant herbal and savory flavours which will nicely match the gravies.
When choosing Pinot Noir look in your Burgundian section of France. Names like Cote d’Or, Cote de Nuits, Cote de Beaune, Pommard and Volnay are the wines you are looking for. There are also some great wines in Sonoma and Napa from the same grape variety. And don’t forget that Chile has now started to produce some amazing Pinots, at very good prices.
When finding Beaujolais, go for the best, carrying names like Morgon, Fleurie, Moulin a Vent, Brouilly. These are a few of the to 10 best villages in the area.
The type of Cabernet Franc you are looking for is a cool climate style with an earthy, floral and berry filled palate with medium body at the most. Look in the VQA section of Canadian Wine, Ontario and British Columbia are producing some great examples.
For those that just can’t drink anything else but full body reds, I will suggest to stay with hot climate wines like Argentinian Malbec, or Carmenere from Chile. These varietals are bursting with full fresh fruit flavors and have very low level of tannins. Australian Cabernet and Shiraz would also be appropriate choices as well.
And for a dessert or cheese course? Icewine or Late Harvest Riesling is a safe choice. If you feel like treating your self to something more unusual but very tasty, try Hungarian Tokaji or French Sauternes, both are an excellent choice to finish your evening.
Blog by Otta Zapotocky
General Manager and Sommelier at Wildfire Steakhouse and Wine bar