Having been into food for as long as I remember, it was only a natural progression to get into all things fermented (when becoming of age, of course). My passion for food lead me to Sur La Table, and I’ve been here nearly seven years. I also work for a fantastic Washington State winery, brew my own beer, ferment cider and shop for beer/wine/spirits a lot, so my spare closet (affectionately known as the cellar) is busting at the seams with liquid treasures. If you’re ever over for dinner at my house, and I ask what you’re in the mood for, don’t say “whatever you want.” You might not see me for quite some time as I dig through all of the fun bottles I can’t wait to open.
I’ll be writing semi-regular wine pairings on this blog, so here goes. First and foremost, with all wine and food pairings, as cliché as it may sound, drink what you like! If you make good food, and you pick up a decent bottle of wine, 9 times out of 10 you’re going to be very pleased with the “pair.” There is one problem with this method of choosing wine, however. It’s boring! It’s far too easy to become stuck in a rut, buying the same two or three bottles over and over.
My hope in these pairing posts is to get you drinking some great wines that you may not have tried before. Look at it this way: how often have you opened up a bottle (a decent bottle!) and found it “drain-pour” undrinkable? My guess is going to be VERY rarely. The wine world holds all kinds of great juice. Let’s go find some.
- The pork – plays nicely with both red and white, tenderloin being fairly lean has me staying away from reds from the fuller bodied end of the spectrum while on the white side, I don’t mind a good amount of texture/viscosity.
- The plum chutney – being sweet and sour, a good amount of acid in the wine is a must to help it from becoming cloying. Being fruit-based chutney, I’m going to look to avoid anything too oaky and/or fruity. Finding a little funk or spice could play well against the plums and mustard seeds.
- The salad – having a very green and earthy salad sitting on the plate really opens up the wine possibilities. Again, I’ll favor a more lean-styled red and stay away from overly tannic styles. The introduction of the earthy element to the plate needs to be considered, but not dwelled upon on the white side, as many whites get along nicely with veggies.
When thinking about wines, I focus much more on the style than I do the producer and vintage. Do the producer(s) and vintage(s) matter? Definitely. Do they matter to the point that you shouldn’t try 2007 Bordeaux because Robert Parker’s vintage chart didn’t score it well? Definitely not.
With this in mind, I’m going to throw out three wines (1 white and 2 reds) that will enhance the Pork with Plum Chutney, as well as the Farro and Kale Salad with Pine Nuts. These are wine styles. Sure, I’ll suggest a few producers (but not vintages!) that I’ve enjoyed in previous tastings. But please don’t let this get you hung up on that one particular bottle.
Savennieres – This Chenin Blanc-based wine from the Loire Valley in France has everything we are looking for to absolutely sing with this meal. These whites are richly textured with great acid and just a little bit of unexpected earth coming through to keep everything in check.
Wineries to look for: Nicolas Joly, Chateau d’Epire and Clos de la Marche
Bourgueil – There are many big red wine fans out there that adore Cabernet Franc. I get it. It’s great. This is not that kind of cab franc. This next comment may turn some of you off, but bear with me. This wine smells almost as much of vegetables as it does fruit. More often than not, green bell peppers come to mind when I stick my nose into a glass of Bourgueil. Though much more lean than it’s California-grown sibling, this Loire Valley wine has enough acid and texture to match up with the meal while not dominating it with too much oak, alcohol, or possible residual sweetness. One added bonus: top-notch wines in this style come in around $20.
Wineries to look for: Breton, Domain De Bel Air and Joel Taluau
Bierzo – Though the wine producing area of Bierzo in northwestern Spain produces both red and white wine, I’m going to focus here on the red. The grape used in this region goes by the name Mencia. Similar in nature to Old-World-styled Cab Franc, Mencia brings just a bit more fruit to the glass. This region is getting hot so get it while it’s still inexpensive. Snag one for your next dinner party, and you’ll be the cool one bringing the delicious wine that no one else has heard of.
Wineries to look for: Descendientes de Jose Palacios, Palacios Remondo and Tilenus
Have you tried any wines from these regions? If so, I’d love to hear what you think. If not, now you’re out of excuses. Cheers!