One of my favorite ways to experience a wine is with a delicious meal. A perfectly paired dish can truly enhance your wines aromas and flavors (and vice versa). However, I know it can sometimes feel really overwhelming when you feel you need to find that “perfect” wine while trying to remember all of the “rules.”
Well, here’s the great part. There are no rules! I know we’ve all heard “Reds with Steaks” and “Whites with Fish and Chicken”, and honestly those can be a great jumping off point. But, in my opinion, the important thing is that you’re drinking a wine you enjoy, and that you think is delicious with your meal. Then, just have fun with it!
– If you’re interested in learning specifics about why certain wines tend to pair better with certain dishes, you can definitely learn some tips and techniques. In fact, I may just have to do a follow up to talk some more about it. But, today I want to focus more on the “fun” of trying many different wines with the same dish – just to see what happens.
Here is one of my most recent adventures:
The great French-American Jacques Pepin has been sharing his fantastic recipes with us for decades. Perhaps you remember him on his television program “Jacques and Julia” with Julia Child? I’ve recently enjoyed making some of his recipes myself, and this one is probably my favorite. It’s his Roast Split Chicken with a Mustard Crust. Here is a link to the exact recipe http://www.kqed.org/w/morefastfoodmyway/pdf/204-recipe.pdf. I know for many people, a roast chicken may not sound particularly exciting, but trust me on this one. It’s fantastic!
• The first wine I paired with our Roast Chicken was Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy. The bright, citrusy lemon helped take a warm, hearty dish and make it perfect for summer. I also served the chicken with fresh summer veggies which helped to bring everything together.
• For the second wine, I went with Jacques’ suggestions – a chilled Beaujolais, also from France. Beaujolais’s tend to be relatively dry, but fruity and easy-drinking. And yes, you read that right. I paired a red wine with chicken. Yes, I drank that red slightly chilled. Take that rules! And you know what, it was fantastic.
• Finally, for my third wine, I wanted to be more adventurous and went with a 2012 Ch Ragotiere Muscadet (not to be confused with Moscato), from the Loire region in France. The bright fruit and lingering minerality of this white wine, kept the dish light and summery. Also, the particular way that this wine is made gives it a more rich, smooth texture that made this wine my favorite pairing of the three. This was an instance where the wine and the dish were so evenly matched that they both brought out the best in the other. I just wanted to keep going back from bite to sip to bite.
So, this was just one example of ways to have fun and try something new with dinner. And remember, when you’re planning your next meal, and you want to find that perfect wine, remain calm! Have fun with it. Try something new. (And it’s always OK to ask for a little friendly advice from your helpful neighborhood wine store associate.)
Life Is 4 Tasting: Differently