Oct 14, 2010

10 Wine & Food Pairing Tips

Wine Tasting, California   (Courtesy: Robert Holmes)
Yesterday, after publishing a post entitled Two New Books About Wine & Food Pairing, I came across 10 wine/food pairing tips from the Wine Institute, an organization representing more than 1,000 wineries and affiliated businesses throughout California.

Given that, it's easy to see why these tips are geared to California wines. In fact, though, the tips are appropriate for the same varietals grown elsewhere. But, hey, let's face it: California wines are not only the best in the nation, they hold a strong and equal rank with the world's best.

At any rate, here are the tips:

  • When enjoying cheeses either before or after dinner, consider a California sparkling wine alongside. The effervescence will stimulate the palate in such a way that both the cheeses and the wine will soar. For a festive and tasty flourish, serve fresh California pomegranates with the cheese and add a few arils, as pomegranate seeds are called, to each glass.
  • Enjoy smoked fish—oysters, salmon, lox, trout, sturgeon and sablefish, for example—with California sparkling wine.
  • California Sauvignon Blanc loves green vegetables of any kind, from artichokes and green beans to tender lettuces and zucchini. It is also an excellent match with goat cheeses and fresh mozzarella.
  • California Chardonnay and Viognier blossom with corn and carrots. Serve with corn on the cob, corn chowder, creamy polenta topped with California Teleme cheese and corn salsa, corn or carrot risotto, oven-roasted carrots and carrot fritters.
  • California Pinot Noir, among the world’s most versatile wines, pairs well with a classic BLT as with wild Pacific King salmon on a bed of roasted winter squash. Delicious with turkey, California Pinot Noir is an ideal Thanksgiving wine, as well.
    Tasting, California-style    (Courtesy: Wine Institute)
  • California Merlot is delightful with blueberries. Combine blueberries with wild rice, fresh or smoked turkey and a simple balsamic vinaigrette for a main course salad to enjoy with Merlot. To enhance the match, add a little Merlot to the dressing.
  • Defy the conventional wisdom that pairs fish with white wine and meat with red. A robust California Chardonnay is wonderful with rare steak and prime rib and California Cabernet Sauvignon is perfect with halibut topped with a dollop of black olive butter or tapenade.
  • Enjoy California Syrah with classic Italian dishes, such as spaghetti and meatballs, polenta and stewed sausages and lasagna. It is also excellent with grilled red meats and ripe backyard tomatoes and roasted sweet peppers.
  • California Zinfandel is a perfect quaff with burgers, ribs, fajitas and chili but vegetarians will be thrilled to know it is also the best choice with lentils, especially when served with grilled Portobello mushrooms.
  • For a simple, healthy and delicious dessert, combine seasonal fruits—such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, plums and peaches—with a little sugar and chill for a couple of hours, until natural juices collect in the bowl. Add about a cup of California Rosé or Pinot Noir, toss and serve, or spoon over vanilla ice cream, with the wine alongside.

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