Women + Wine: What to drink with dinner
One of our favorite questions from customers is, “What do I want to drink with my dinner?” I have… “. We hear everything from pizza (Valpolicella), sushi (Riesling), barbecue (Zinfandel) and shaved asparagus salad with soft poached egg, smoked olive oil and black sea salt. (Verdejo).
These decisions are not taken lightly because honestly, the wrong wine can ruin the meal. The perfect pairing can create magical food memories with the simplest of meals. A few years ago one of our many wine dreams came true and we took a trip together to the small town of Quintanamanvirgo in the Ribera Del Duero region of Spain. This is the land of high altitude Tempranillo and all the meat you can imagine. Over the fire in the vineyards of the previous year, the producers cooked suckling lamb and sausages as well as potatoes. In this small town of 92 inhabitants, they make a wine – Torremoron. This Tempranillo sang with this rustic meal.
Just because we’re not in an episode of “No Reservations” doesn’t mean we can’t recreate equally memorable experiences at home. When deciding how to pair your food and wine, there is one important thing to consider: the palate of the dish and the palate of the drink. We often use this phrase in our daily matchmaking conversations – “what grows together goes hand in hand”. In other words, what is the origin of the dish – French? Italian? Chinese? American? What wines do they produce? What vegetables or herbs do they grow? This is, my friends, the cheat sheet for food and wine pairings. But of course there are cases when you pair wines with dishes that are not created in wine regions. This is where the experts really create the magic.
When we think about the palates or the flavors of what we consume, there are several factors and complexity is the first step. Complex food does not need complex drinks. Spicy foods cannot stand spicy wines. Simple dishes, especially raw foods, require a cool, clean drink. White wine pairings tend to be more precise than red wines. If butter and cream are involved, a well rounded Chardonnay does the trick. It’s all about balance. Acidic foods should have wines that are not too acidic. Tannic wines will wreak havoc on foods that have bitter components, like endive and arugula. The temperature is also something to consider. Cold food and cold wine, but hot dishes should never be served with food that is too chilled. Try your richer the whites after 30 minutes out of the refrigerator, it does wonders to awaken the nuances of the wine.
We poured a glass of our favorite Albariño and sat down with Atlanta superstar mixologist and drink educator Kellie Thorn to hear her thoughts on the topic at hand. Being deeply involved in the world of wine, we tend not to consider other libations and Kellie is passionate about finding the right cocktail to go with just about anything. When you pair with spirits, Kellie’s advice is twofold: “Complex foods and complex drinks make a shock of flavors a confusing mess in your brain” and “deconstruct the mind in the notes you can build in. the dish.” Think shochu and sushi – hints of salty and fresh herbs complement the flavors of the raw fish. She also notes that frozen VS cognac and foie gras “change your life”, a rich and silky dish associated with a fruity and complex spirit.
The edict that what grows together goes hand in hand is an even simpler thought. Italy is a perfect example – wines are produced to accompany the dishes of the region. Campania in southern Italy is home to several white grape varieties such as Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino, two delicate white wines that pair perfectly with spaghetti and clams or a fresh caprese salad. Tuscany, on the other hand, is home to prolific carnivores and the Sangiovese grape. Chianti and Bistecca alla Fiorentina is a “chef’s kiss!” As far as spirits are concerned, it is the same. Kellie’s example is Baijiu, a strong Chinese spirit who uttered “microbiological flavors” and Sichuan food. The heat of the dish helps neutralize the strong flavors of the drink.
Whether you’re trying to impress your boss or just grabbing takeout to your living room, finding the perfect libation just might make a lasting memory or transport you to a unique cultural experience.
Katie’s Favorite Pairing
Matthiasson ‘Linda Vista’ Chardonnay and Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with Shiitake Succotash. Steve Matthiasson is one of my favorite winemakers of all time. His approach to organic farming and winemaking without intervention is admirable and should be considered a benchmark. Linda Vista is a single Napa Valley vineyard and the wine is a perfect balance of cream and tropical fruit that pairs perfectly with the texture and smoothness of the crabmeat, especially when a touch of butter is involved.
Kellie’s Perfect Match
Super stirred and really cold Ford martini gin with a chilled seafood tower. If the bartender knows me, the first thing they sit in front of me is a super cold gin martini, straight up with a hint of lemon and a single olive that has fallen to the bottom. The lemon and the little salted brine from the olive really enhances the flavor of the gin and also complements the seafood.
Sarah’s spicy accord
All I have to say is KFC – KoreanFusion Fried Chicken and Cruse Wine Co. Ricci Sparkling St. Laurent from Carneros, California. IYKYK. Seung Hee Lee (aka KoreanFusion) is the mastermind behind “Slutty Sauce” and the dish that quickly floated his name around the world. Atlanta culinary scene in 2018, “Slutty Tofu”. Seung Hee skillfully coats the perfect amount of her sweet and spicy sauce on crispy chicken nuggets. Follow a generous bite with a sip of tangy and fruity sparkling Saint-Laurent from Cruse Wine Co. and you’ll understand the lessons a real food and wine pairing.
Sarah Pierre is the owner of 3 Parks Wine Shop in Glenwood Park and Katie Rice is the owner of VinoTeca in Inman Park. Follow them @ 3parkswine and @shopvinoteca