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Wine and Cheese Pairings 101

Wine and Cheese Pairings 101

 

Do you remember those 101 classes you foolishly thought were going to be an easy A, but you still had to study and attend class? Well, here’s a way to ace cheese pairings and you don’t even have to go to class.

So last night, my lactose intolerant boyfriend helped me photograph cheese.  Now, that’s love.  As we all come to find our passion and dedication to a way of life, mine has been to

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Fig Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Paired with Zinfandel

Fig Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Paired with Zinfandel

I admit it, I like Zin. Especially Zin’fandel’s with rich fruit flavor with lots of spice finish. Im sorry, but you can’t claim to be a Californian, love wine and not like Zinfandel. It’ s just not possible. Do you realize we put Zinfandel on the international wine map? Although the origin of Zinfandel grapes is debatable, we have truly been gifted with wineries across California serving the most lush and complex Zinfandels. Two of my favorite regions for Zinfandel are

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Chicken Piccata Wine Pairing

Chicken Piccata paired with Tablas Creek Wine

Does a dish inspire a wine selection or does the wine inspire the dish? In this case, on my visit to Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles, the wine definitely inspired the dish and the chef. Grown and bottled on the estate, the 2009 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel blanc inspired my chicken piccata cooking frenzy this evening. With notes of lemon, honey, spice, and a slight mineral finish, it was the perfect compliment to this traditonal italian dish.

Tablas Creek Winery specializes in Rhone Varietals. The Espirit is a white blend consisting of Roussane, Grenache Blanc, and Picpoul blanc grapes grown in the Rhone Valley of France.  Don’t panic if you have never heard of any of these varietals. This dish could easily pair with any white wine, especially Chardonnay which flavors usually compliment, creamy buttery flavored dishes.

Here are two easy rules to follow when pairing wine and food, which I always use:

1. Compliment the dish with similar flavors in the wine. In this case, the key ingredients in the chicken piccata were lemon, capers, and butter.

2. Go opposite. For example, pairing a rich spicy pork dish with a softer, smoky red wine like Pinot Noir. Or a spicy dish with a slightly sweet wine.

3. There are no set rules to pairings. Try what works for your tastes, but  I suggest trying a few traditonal pairings before you get too adventurous, especially when having dinner guests over.

What’s cooking

Chicken Piccata

4 chicken breasts rinsed and patted dry. Cut crosswise. Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper. Dredge lightly through flour. In a frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Cook chicken 3 minutes on each side and remove to plate.  Add 1/3 cuplemon juice, 1/4  cup capers (rinsed and drained) and 1/2 cup chicken broth. Bring to boil.  Return chicken to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove to plate and pour remaining sauce over chicken. Garnish with parsley.

Wine Suggestions

Tablas Creek Vineyard 2009 Espirit De Beaucastel Blanc. $40. Divine.

Budget Version

2009 La Crema Chardonnay $14.99.  Bevmo and most grocery stores.

It never fails that when I’m in search of a perfect red wine to bring home with me, that somehow a white wine does a sneak attack on my pallette and blows me away. This was such the case this weekend in Amador and Calaveras Wine Country. Both Shenandoah Valley and Murphys offers some great small production finds.

I was hell bent on finding a red, particularily a great Barbera.  By the way, the best Barbera thus far in that region I’ve tried is at Indian Rock Vineyards in Murphys . And for only $18, it’s a steal. Indian Rock Vineyards 2007 Barbera.

But this trip, I wanted to find another great red. At Wildrotter Vineyard in Shenandoah, the staff was friendly and when asked, would you like to taste whites or reds today?, I shrugged my shoulders and said oh, let’s go ahead and start with the whites, I guess. Boom, Viognier!  Luscious, floral, and a great summer wine. I ended up purchasing a bottle. Wildrotter Vineyards 2009 Viognier. Priced at $21.

Down the road inMurphys, the main street is lined with tons of tasting rooms and it’s hard to choose which to try first. On prior recommendation, I stopped at Bodega Del Sur Winery tasting room, located in a little alley behind the main shops. The best white wine on their tasting menu was a portugal varietal grape called Verdelho.  The wine has a wonderful grassy and herbal aromas and although described as equivalent to a sauvignon blanc, I found the wine to be much more luscious and complex. Bodega Del Sur Alta Mesa 2008 Verdelho. Priced at $18. Quantities limited.

Lastly, at Tanner Winery tasting room, you can pick up a magnificent Rose, crisp, not to sweet and perfect as an appertif with cheese and light appetizers.  Tanner Vineyards 2009 Doux Rose. Priced at $17.

Happy Wine Hunting!


Copyright 2014 Laura Ercoli - Wild Wine Woman. Design by Anvil Image Photography
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