When I go out to dinner and order wine I hope that the wine I order compliments the food. The nights that I cook and I bring home a bottle of wine I try to pair it with the meal. After all, food and wine are friends who are meant to be together. They bring out the best in eachother. When wine is paired with food well with food it makes all the difference. Whether the dinner is for two or two hundred I like for things to taste good. No one wants to disappoint their guests.
Ensuring that you have the proper pairing means understanding that the profile of the wine should compliment the food. An example of this is a good Sauvignon Blanc and a salad with vinegarette dressing. The acid in the wine stands up to the acidity of the dressing. Often the mineral characteristics in a white wine such as a Muscadet will compliment a dish with mineral tones such as raw oysters. Baked buttery oysters might prefer a buttery wine such as an oaky Chardonnay.
Last Saturday night we had a wine dinner out on the lake. Luckily the following pairings were slam dunks. We started with mixed greens with lemon vinegarette. The chosen wine for this dish was Broken Dreams Chardonnay from Slo Down Wines. This dry, full- bodied Chardonnay has nice notes of tropical fruit and lemon zest. Lemon plus lemon equals success. The second course, a mushroom tart with gouda cheese was paired with a red blend called Oakley. This Syrah, Petit Syrah and Barbera blend is a true value blend from Sonoma County. It’s got a little bit of everything including 3% Pinot Noir. The strong cheese complimented the wine bringing out the fruit. The dinner was a Zinfandel and Zinfandel blend themed dinner. Oakley qualified with a tiny 3% Zinfandel in it’s blend. The winemakers even put a handy pull away food pairing chart on the back of the bottle. Next we served braised short ribs with root vegetables. I always love short ribs as there are a variety of wines to pair with these babies. I practically order these any time I see them on a menu. We chose the Zinphomaniac from Lodi to sip with the short ribs. Lodi is an iconic Zinfandel producing region in Central California. This wine brings loads of jammy black fruit with a touch of pepper and spice. We rounded out the dinner with ever popular Zinfandel, Syrah and Petit Syrah blend, Sexual Chocolate. This wine will make you blush or flush but it’s chocolate notes and supple tannins never fail to please. Dessert was simple- chocolates in a martini glass. And yes, chocolate can and does pair with wine.
Dinner was a success. The key to the success was choosing the wines after tasting them with the food to be served. Thanks to Gina and Jim Stradley and Chef Julio for their patience and hard work.