Vino In My Dino
December 27, 2017 16:51
A cookbook was written in 1989 (the year we were married by the way) called Red Wine with Fish by David Rosengarten and Joshua Wesson. Up until then it was widely advised to pair fish with white wine-this challenged the old view and helped people think outside of the wine box when pairing different foods. At times I think the whole concept of wine and food pairing can get complicated. I try to take a casual informal view of pairing as I like to read a recipe and then start to pair up which of our wines I think will go best.
I do have a couple of internal rules I follow. There must be a good amount of fat to help bridge the dish with wine which is on the acidic side. The simplest explanation is pairing wine with cheese-each style of cheese has an affinity for a certain varietal. But don’t stop yourself if all you have is Brie and Cabernet Sauvignon-add some roasted mushrooms on top of the brie and between the three you have a nice match. In fact I think roasted mushrooms will hold their own against any red wine-the roasted quality caramelizes the shrooms and you have a great flavor combination from Pinot Noir to Petite Sirah.
The other rule is not to go overboard on spices and herbs—I don’t subscribe to ‘if one clove of garlic is good how about the whole head’ i.e. garlic is not the main feature but a complement to a recipe (just ask Lidia Bastianich) or ‘I like pickled jalapenos so I’ll just add a few’-STOP! they have too much vinegar to play nicely with wine. How about a nice long cooked ragout with meat, tomato, Italian herbs and hints of garlic paired with Zinfandel-my go-to wine for tomato based sauces as is Sangiovese. Make sure to finish the sauce with a pat of butter for that bridge effect to take place-or a swirl of olive oil would work as well.
Keeping it simple with any grilled or roasted poultry, pork or lamb goes nicely with wine too. Vegetables pair better when roasted or grilled so the caramelization makes the pairing ‘sweeter’. Some of those ‘hard to pair’ veggies like asparagus or artichokes can be tamed by use of an aioli or plain old mayo, once again the fat is the bridge builder. Butter sauce with hints of herbs can do wonders as well.
For me it is breaking down the recipe to find out the base of flavors in it-does it have herbs or spices? Citrus of some sort? Root herbs like garlic, shallot, or ginger? How do these interplay with the center of the dish like the protein? Most importantly serve it with something you like-the odds are you’ve chosen well and the wine should go with the meal. If it doesn’t fight the flavor or clash with the spices you have a winning combination.