Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Food Pairings

I thought I'd mention a few thoughts on wine and food. One thing I've noticed many times is how similar flavors between wine and food can blend together, putting things in the background on your palate only to reveal other flavors in the wine. For example, I had a Valpolicella Ripasso the other day with some slices of chicken breast that were dusted in various spice rubs and, in essence, sauteed and blackened in a cast iron pan. I thought the heat of the spices, chiles, etc., would marry well with the richness and sweetness in the wine. Valpolicella Ripasso is raised in a barrel with the dried and concentrated skins of grapes used for Amarone and this gives extra body to the wine. It also adds a dimension of glyceral sweetness and I was thinking about the classic match of sweet with spicy flavors. I was wrong. I have to say the pairing was okay but not as integrated as I was hoping for, the fullness of the wine dominated the chicken a little too much for me. Fortunately, I had sauteed slices of red bell pepper to go with the chicken. They were nicely carmelized and sweet. This was fantastic with the vino. Sweet with sweet. The peppers and wine together melded in a nice little melange which then revealed a wonderful earthy bitterness in the Ripasso that I hadn't noticed previously. I really like when this happens and I've seen it a lot when similar flavors in wine and food mingle. Fresh summer tomatoes and riesling can be great together to the same effect. Other nice matches are Cotes Du Rhone with baba ganoush and gruner veltliner with earthy, creamy cheeses or mushrooms. A dialogue starts and flavors are revealed, great fun.


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