Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wines & Beverages: Food and Wine Pairing!

Learning about wine has been extremely developmental in understanding tasting physiology, the interaction of flavor components, and the elements of balance.  Obviously, this is never more apparent than when the world's of food and wine verge to create the study of food and wine pairing! Some say it is easy, whites with fish and reds with meat. Others over complicate it taking it to the extremes of determining which chemical components harmonize to accentute the individual elements of food and wine. Whichever way you choose to pick out your glass of wine, maybe this will shed some light on the versatility of food and wine pairing.
 "The White Bean Soup" exercise. This exercise proves that almost any wine can go with just about any food, based on a few key accompanying ingredients. Remember, balance is the key! With bean soup, the simple assumption is that only simple whites and maybe a Pinot Noir can be paired with this.  But, say you add some mushrooms, salt, parmesan, rosemary garlic oil, and a spoonfull of soffritto to the bean soup and now you have a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon pairable soup. If you only drink Chardonnay, add a little bit of creme fraiche, tarragon oil, and a pinch of salt and you have a big, oaky Chardonnay pairable soup.
That is what is great about food and wine pairing.  You can't really change the wine, but you can always manipulate the food to better harmonize with the wine.
Here are the wines that we played around with for the "White Bean Soup" exercise:

  • St. Supery Sauvignon Blanc, 2008, Napa Valley. ~$19

  • Merry Edwards Chardonnay 2006, Russian River Valley. ~$75

  • Dehlinger Pinot Noir, "Goldridge" 2006, Russian River Valley. ~$43

  • Beringer Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Knights Valley. ~$19
Food and Wine Pairing is also classically defined. Classic Pairings have stood the test of time and are generally recognized as "can't miss!" Take for example a slightly sweet Weingut Weingart Schlos Furstenberg Riesling Spatlese, 2004, Mittelrhein, Germany with a spicy Coconut Thai Curry.
Goat Cheese is classically paired with Sancerre or Sauvignon Blanc. We tested the pairing with a Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Marlborough, New Zealand ~$21 with fresh and aged goat cheese. Homerun! Next up was the classic pairing of roasted meat with Cabernet. We tested a Provenance Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Rutherford, Napa Valley ~$33 with chocolate and coffee powder and also a sweet spice rub. Lesson learned from the classic pairing, keep it simple! Medium-rare meat with a heavy dose of salt and a Napa Cab go together like (insert your chosen metaphor here: bread & butter, peas and carrots, peanut butter and jelly, Cheech & Chong, etc.)
Some of the most classic pairings come to us from the "Old World."  Namely, Sauternes and Foie Gras! How bout this tasting for a bunch of snotty-nosed chefs-in-training! A Chateau Siglas Rabaud 1973, Sauternes, France ~$$$ from the Narsai donation to the CIA. I've died and gone to Bordeaux! Another classic is Port and Stilton. Graham's Late Bottled Vintage 2003 Porto ~$22 with premier English Stilton. Right on the money! Next up Chocolate and Madeira. We tried a Blandy's 10 year Rich Malmsey Madeira with dark chocolate. Not the greatest pairing in my opinion but a much better one than when we brought the Cabernet Sauvignon back out to test the "Chocolate and Cab" pairing that is so popular now a days. I'll just enjoy my Cab with my steak and then enjoy my chocolate at the end of the meal. Next up, we will test these food pairings in the restaurant setting! Cheers!

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