The Wine Palate
I really believe that wine is the best accompaniment for any food.
This includes everything from prime cuts of Kobe beef to the hammered, beaten and greasy meat of a great Philly cheese steak. I know it might seem sort of pretentious to sit at a baseball game, chowing down on a ballpark frank, yelling obscenities at the players, and politely ask the beer girl if she might have a nice crisp rose on her, preferably one from Tavel or Provence because you think it might compliment the relish really well.
While I don’t think it is likely to become the beverage of choice at sporting events any time soon, wine is appearing by the glass almost everywhere you go. Here are a few unlikely wine pairings that you might want to try next time instead of a beer or a cocktail.
I suppose the real difficulty of pairing wine with most foods is that the perfect wine is usually not available.
I find that at most restaurants, the wine thing is more of a game of settling than anything else. That is why in this little breakdown, I will offer an ideal solution and then a reasonably good solution.
One of America’s great food staples is the old burger and beer combination. When considering a wine that is really perfect for this dish, we must not only consider the burger, bun, and cheese, but also the French fries.
If I had my preference, I would certainly go for a nice peppery Crozes-Hermitage. These wines from Northern Rhone represent the origin of the Syrah grape and have the weight to stand up to a juicy burger while retaining the spicy and peppery flavors that might not offend the fries. Restaurant alternative: if they have a Merlot, Cab, or Shiraz, or some innocuous house in California or Australia, you would probably fair pretty well.
Next time you are at an Asian restaurant, there are a few wine rules you might want to keep in mind.
Keep in mind, that spicy food goes well with spicy wine. Therefore, as an easy solution, if you are eating a dish based in lighter fair such as shrimp, chicken, or even sometimes pork, a great dry Gewürztraminer from New York State or Alsace would be a great choice. Mmmmm, Pad-Thai and Gewurztraminer.
If you are going the route of a beef-based dish, or a dish with really heavy sauce, you might want to pick a nice Barbera D’Alba that can both stand up to beef and carry enough acid to cut through thick sauce. If that is not available, try and pick a wine that is on the heavier side and is still backed by enough acid. Try a California Cab if it is available.
Lastly, one of the greatest and underestimated pairings is sushi and wine.
Here is a brief list of suggestion that I often make. I recommend bringing a nice crisp white burgundy, as it can be a great all-around pairing with many fish.
If you have the chance of wider availability, here is a list of recommendations:
*Seaweed Salad – Off dry German Riesling, Lietz
*Spicy Tuna Roll – Alsatian Gewurztraminer *Unagi roll- Pinot Noir, something on the lighter side, Calera maybe
*Tuna -White Burgundy, Joseph Drouhin Chablis, ’04, yum!
*Salmon – Vouvray, or something with a little bit of sweetness and mineral undertones
*Tako – Gavi, Cortese, or something else that has a citrus array of flavors
* Escolar – Rueda
*Spanish Mackerel (Aji) – Albarino or another light fruit forward white
*Tobiko – Champagne
*Hamachi – New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
I guess the point of this column is to insinuate that wine is not only reserved for an expensive meal, but is a great everyday beverage equipped for many occasions. Good luck and good drinks.
Zev Rovine is the sommelier and resident cheese monger at the Spotted Frog Bookstore Cafe and Wine Bar where he teaches weekly wine classes. His wine education comes from the American Sommelier Association in N.Y.C. and he tries his very best not to spill the Pinot on the bestseller section. If you have any wine queries or comments he is easily contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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