Food For Thought 9/7/18

(Sept. 7, 2018) The pairing of food and wine is a very special union.

Since the taste of wine cannot be altered, the flavor of the food becomes critical. In essence, the food will either enhance or diminish the overall experience.

This indirect process of showcasing the wine literally lies in the hands of the chef. He or she must present combinations of ingredients that are in congruence with the wine itself.

When tasting food and wine, it is important to remember to alternate them and never let them mix on your palate or you will not taste each of them correctly.

Contrary to popular belief, the pairing should not be based solely on the protein; the sauce also needs to be taken into consideration. If the protein is not the primary flavor, the sauce actually dictates the pairing choice.

Specificity is a must when matching food and wine, so a quick review highlights clarity. A good quality rosé combines the fresh acidity and light body of white wines with the fruity character of reds. This makes it a great go-to wine when serving a wide range of hors d’oeuvres.

Chardonnay cannot be generalized, it depends on where it is made, whether or not it has been oaked, and how mature it is when you drink it. We will focus on a more mature barrel fermented chardonnay.

As Chardonnays age, they acquire a creamy, buttery taste that pairs well with more delicate dishes. Fresh shellfish and roasted chicken are good choices. Dishes that include wild mushrooms and white truffles also pair nicely. Smoked fish, Chinese food and tomato-based dishes should be avoided.

Sauvignon Blanc boasts a citrusy acidity that acts like a splash of lemon or lime juice to heighten flavors in everything from smoked fish to grilled salmon. Tangy foods like scallops with a grapefruit salsa are another option.

Alcohol accentuates the oils that make spicy food hot. So, combine these types of food with wines that are low in alcohol, such as Rieslings to counter the spiciness. Dry Rieslings are also delicious with foods that have the “green” flavors like lime, jalapeño, and tomatillo.

Medium bodied Pinot Grigio has hints of earthiness and for this reason is a good combination when paired with roasted turkey and roast lamb. It also works well with creamy, soft cheeses.

Pinot Noir is full of richness, freshness and spice which makes this blend the right choice for any occasion. This versatile wine pairs well with lamb kabobs, mushroom risotto and roasted vegetables.

Cabernet Sauvignon is known for its dark color, full body and alcohol. It needs to be drunk with food, given its acidity, tannins and alcohol.

When Cabernet Sauvignon is paired with steak or dishes with a heavy butter cream sauce, the tannins are neutralized, allowing the fruits of the wine to be noticed.

The words “rustic” and “rich” best describe the aromas of Zinfandel. Roasted venison, pates, mousses and terrines blend wonderfully with the intensity of Zinfandel.

Shiraz is a full-bodied wine that is perfect for the winter holidays. Grilled steaks, roasted vegetables and a pork crown are able to complement its intensity.

The most common mistake when pairing desserts and dessert wines is to overwhelm the taste buds with sweetness. Choose a wine that is lighter and less sweet such as a Moscato.

The opening of football season is here, white sangria is the perfect offering. This refreshing cocktail that has been embellished with gorgeous fruit which offsets the hot weather. A touch of cognac adds to the festivities and gives the punch added flavor and “kick.”

Following are a few dishes that will pair well with white sangria: cheese, guacamole, jalapeño poppers, prosciutto-wrapped melon, sweet and sour meatballs, pork sliders, seafood dishes, or chicken empanadas.

Entertaining is about being creative and developing your own style. White sangria is perfect for this time of the year. The beauty of this recipe is that you can change the types of fruit to coincide with your personal preference. Enjoy!

* Make sure the wine is chilled. Do not place ice cubes in the actual pitcher of sangria, they will melt and dilute your wonderful flavors. Place the ice cubes in the individual glasses if necessary.

* Make sure you remove any seeds from the fruit slices.

White Sangria


1 lemon, ends removed and cut into ¼-inch slices

1 orange, ends removed and cut into ¼-inch slices

1 lime, ends removed and cut into ¼-inch slices

5 slices fresh pineapple core and quartered

5 slices pink lady apples, core and quartered

12 strawberries

6 ounces blackberries

½ cup sifted sugar

½ cup cognac, chilled

2 (750 ml) or 1 (1.5 L Magnum) bottles dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, chilled

1 long stem flower to be used as a stirrer, make sure the stem has been washed

ice cubes for serving

1. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cognac.

2. In a large pitcher, add fruit.

3. Add wine to pitcher and stir until well combined. Add sugar and cognac, and again, stir until well combined. Place the long stem flower in the pitcher.

Secret Ingredient – Variety. “Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it its flavor.”

– William Cowper

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