We went to our last wine class this week. The handout was tips for pairing wine with food. In short:
- pair wine with food, not food with wine … For one thing, the wine list in most restaurants is larger than the food list, so your selection of foods is more limited than your selection of wines.
- either match a food dish in intensity with the wine (earthy wine with earthy food, e.g.,), or let the wine provide a complement to the dish’s intensity — e.g., an acidic wine with a greasy meat dish, or the example on the handout, a dry crisp German Riesling with an Indian curry
- whether the food is meat, seafood, poultry, vegetable or what have you, match the wine to the intensity of the entire dish/meal (and the sauce or preparation style might be a major factor here), not to the type of meat or non-meat you’re eating. There’sa red for vegetables and fish, there’s a white for steak and burgers. This reminds me of the Color Me Beautiful concept that clothing and makeup should match one’s “season” — everyone can wear red, or yellow, or white, it just depends on the tone of the colour. Likewise, there is a “tone” of red or white wine that will work with most foods.
- if you’re serving a salad with wine, do not use vinegar in the salad or the wine will taste like vinegar. Use lemon juice or something else for salad dressing acidity.
- if you’re cooking with wine, use the same wine you’ll be drinking with the meal or a wine that’s similar.
- decanting for 15-20 mins in a wide decanter is good for young wines; as wine ages, it doesn’t stand up as well to oxidation.
Henry Varnay sparkling white wine (Blanc de Blanc?) from the Loire Valley, a combination of chenin blanc and chardonnay. No vintage year. $12/bottle.
Aroma: perm solution, said three of us. We didn’t talk about this wine too much, so not sure what anyone else smelled.
Taste: light taste, not lingering
Not a wine I would choose — “perm solution” is not my idea of a bouquet.
Trappolini Orvieto 2006 from central Italy, with these grapes: Trebbiano Toscano (Procanico) – 40-60%, Verdello, Canaiolo, Grechetto, Drupeggio and/or (no more than 20%) Malvasia Toscana. Fermented in stainless steel with no malalactic processing. 12% alcohol.
Visual: greenish yellow, very clear
Aroma: I smelled anise, pear, geranium. Other tasting notes say: “pear, pineapple and apple followed by aromas of almond and straw.” That’s odd, because the anise smell was very strong for me and others at the table.
Taste: I thought it was pretty bitter on the mid-palate, fairly hot alcoholic, but not very persistent
Cerro Anon Crianza Rioja 2002 from Spain. $16 or so.
Crianza is aged extra long in oak, 8 months in this case.
Visual: Clear to veiled, rubyish even though it’s fairly old
Aroma: spicy, musty, berries, prune-plum, dried fruit
Taste: Very smooth, not harsh at all, very tannic, earthy. The teacher tasted bright, fresh fruit on the front of the tongue, but I didn’t. I thought it lacked some fruitiness. The strong tannic and lack of fruit made it feel unbalanced to me.
It’s a wine I drink often, bec. I like tannins and I like the earthy smoothness, but now I also know that, to my palate, it lacks something.
Château Lamartine Cahors 2004 Cuvée Particulière , a Malbec from France. “Cuvée Particulière” means the grape is grown on an older vine. 2004 was a pretty good year in this region. Lamartine is known as one of the best wineries in Cahors. This is a good wine to age. (Another website says the wine is made from: “90% Malbec and 10% Merlot from 40-55 year old, low-yielding vines.”) Like a Bordeaux in structure and weight. $24/bottle.
Visual: veiled, very inky
Aroma: tobacco, boysenberry, spicy
Taste: spicy, tannic
Decanter magazine: “‘Great complexity with lifted plum and damson fruit aromas. Deep, full and lots of plum fruit backed by well-handled tannins.” Other tasting notes, for the non-Cuvée, say: “Light woody smell with slight hint of liquorice and little red smashed fruits.”