- There’s a wine for every food
and a food for every wine!
- The secret is in the sauce…
and the preparation!
While some insist drink what you like, and pair the wine you like with the food you like BUT while you MAY like it, and everybody’s chemistry is different, some pairings are A+, others awful, and some just all right.
What I like isn’t always what Sue likes. She loves jalapeños, onions, celery; I don’t. In fact, I have a hard time digesting green peppers and onions. I’m not fond of celery, and I really find that celery seed has a strong flavor that hangs around and doesn’t do well with wine.
Over the years of pairing and writing about food and wine pairings has taught us a few tricks– especially when pairing wines with vegetarian dishes.
WINE PREDATOR’S TOP 10 TRICKS FOR FOOD AND WINE PAIRING
- Use quality, organic, fresh ingredients– don’t skimp on flavors.
- Match the color of your food to the color of the wine:
White wines = white foods (chardonnay and roast chicken)
Pink wine = pink foods (rose and ham, Pinot Noir and salmon)
Red wine = red foods (steak and cabernet).
- Italian white wines work well with artichokes and other difficult pairings.
- Grill or roast your vegetables to go with both white and red wines.
- Use a sauce: rich flavors help pair vegetables, fish and meat with a greater variety of wines.
- What grows together goes together: find foods and recipes from the region to pair with the region’s wine and vice versa.
- Dessert should not be sweeter than the wine.
- If you want to pair chocolate, try it with port or put it in a mole sauce with chicken and it will work with red wines– even Bordeaux or a Pinotage!
- Many wines love herbs, especially fresh herbs as well as garlic and lemon zest.
- If you can, taste the wines in advance before completing your menu. Sometimes they can surprise you!
So what are some foods considered particularly difficult to pair?
These A foods: asparagus, artichokes, and arugula!
Oh and apples! As in dessert!
So we decided to pair them with wines with countries that start with A: Australia, Austria, and Alsace and to see how they’d work, more or less randomly based on what samples I had available — and that were organic!
“A+” Organic Wines
samples for my review consideration
- ALSACE: NV Jean-Baptiste Adam “Les Natures” Brut Cremant d’Alsace (certified organic)
- AUSTRALIA: 2016 Howard Park “Miamup” Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Margaret River (read more about their uncertified organic, biodynamic, and regenerative agricultural practices)
- ARGENTINA: 2020 Domaine Bousquet “Gaia” Rosé, Mendoza (certified organic)
- ARGENTINA: 2018 Domaine Bousquet Gaia Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza (certified organic)
- AUSTRIA: 2018 Heinrich “Naked White” (certified organic)
- AUSTRIA: 2018 Heinrich “Naked Red” (certified organic)
“A+” Vegetarian Menu
- Arugula Citrus Salad
- Asparagus Lemon Risotto: Instant Pot (recipe below)
- Artichokes Stuffed: oven roasted (recipe from Washington Post)
- Apple Puff Pastry Tart with brie, cherries, rosemary, pecans (recipe below)
NV Jean-Baptiste Adam “Les Natures” Brut Cremant d’Alsace
ABV 12.0% alcohol
Color: Golden in color, like gold jewelry, delicate soft bubbles, lovely perlage
Aroma: Fresh raw almonds, almond croissant, apple,
Palate: Lively and fizzy, but it is not like a seltzer, there is a very light foamy feeling. Very light on the palate, tart Granny Smith apple, raw fresh almonds, there isn’t a lot of finish, it is there. This is not a rich nor a complex wine, but it is very pleasing.
Pairing: Loves the spicy peppery notes of the arugula, fantastic with the risotto. It loves the lemon profile and the rich creaminess of the dish. Great with the artichoke.
There was nothing in this menu that this wine did not harmonize with, including the dessert.
This is a great valued wine for the price which is what we always find with Alsace wines. Great wines for a great price. Savory semi sweet desserts go so well with wines.
Sushi: wonderful with the bubbles, no worries there’s no sweetness!
2016 Howard Park “Miamup” Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Margaret River ABV 13.0%
Read about Howard Park’s sustainability practices here and about winemaker Janice McDonald.
Color: Very pale in color, light lemon chiffon
Aroma: Very typical of a Sauvignon nose. Very similar to the nose of a New Zealand Sauv Blanc. Gooseberry, grapefruit, grass, sea grass,
Palate: Tart bright citrus fruit, lemon, nice slick mouthfeel, the flavor profile is very similar to a New Zealand Sauv Blanc, but the mouthfeel is slicker, rounder making is distinctive.
Pairing: The wine appreciates the avocado in the salad; without avocado to tame the acidity it might be a bit much. For Sue it was the bit of chili olive oil in the dressing to give it a bit of kick setting the wine over the top. Roasted Asparagus is equally as great with Sauvignon Blanc as goat cheese smeared on a warm crusty baguette. It is absolutely wonderful. The wine loves the lemon profile in the asparagus risotto. Fabulous with the artichoke, a dish that you cannot go wrong.
If you think a vegetable dish is going to be difficult to pair, put it with a versatile Sauvignon Blanc, which goes so nicely with so many foods.
I could discern both the brie and the bit of sprinkling of the parm on top of the asparagus risotto, the wine loving them both equally yet differently.
The rosemary and the brie in the dessert with this wine was so absolutely fantastic. Because the dessert was not too sweet, and because of the pine tar notes from the rosemary, it worked so well with the wine.
Do not be afraid to add herbs and less sugar to desserts to work well with wines when serving a coursed meal.
Day 2: Paired with crab sushi dipped in soy sauce– brings down the Oceania -ness of the pairing.
2018 Heinrich “Naked White”
91% Chardonnay, 6% Pinot Blanc 2% Muskat Ottonel, 1% Pinot Gris
About fifteen years ago, a group of mostly Austrian winemakers founded respekt. Paul Achs, Judith Beck, Kurt Feiler, Karl Fritsch, Michael Goëss-Enzenberg, Gernot Heinrich, Johannes Hirsch, Fred Loimer, Hans Nittnaus, Bernhard Ott, Gerhard Pittnauer, Claus Preisinger and Franz Weninger started a movement in 2003 “when a few of us started to think about farming and the way we farmed,” said Fred Loimer in a recent ZOOM webinar. They were seeking to improve the quality of their wines by using biodynamics as guiding principles.
It is not everyday that it’s suggested to shake a wine before serving. It becomes foamy in the bottle after shaking it and it has a fuller mouthfeel. This wine gives such a sense of place. Fascinating wine! Definitely a chardonnay for the ABCers (All But Chardonnay).
Color: Bright buttercup, a bit cloudy.
Aroma: Musk and soil, minerals, not very much fruit, tangerines, mostly earth, soil and minerals, pine, rosemary blossoms, sodium carbonate with citrus and cherry
Palate: Butterscotch, pine, this is a very interesting palate, long lingering finish, lemon citrus, I even got fresh tart cherries, but Sue did not find that in the wine at all. The minerals at the back of the palate hang out for a good long time. Even though it is foamy in the bottle after shaking it, there isn’t any effervescence after shaking it up.
Pairing: Great with the stuffing in the stuffed artichoke. The lemon, the garlic, the cheese, the olive oil, and the richness, loves this wine. While I couldn’t imagine anything being better with this wine than the artichoke. Sue took a bite of the risotto and proved me wrong. The richness of the brie and the lemon, and the asparagus were just perfect companions to this wine. It is good with the arugula salad (make sure your bite has avocado in it) but so much better with the richer foods. Favorite for both of us was the risotto. Fantastic with dessert with the herbs and the hint of honey. The apple was very mild and the cherries not too sweet.
With sushi: stands up to the strong flavors of the soy sauce and brings out the flavors of the sushi without being fishy.
2020 Domaine Bousquet Gaia Rosé, Mendoza
In the late 1990s the Bousquets left their native France for the Andean foothills of Argentina where they have farmed organically from the beginning. Gaia, the ancient Greek goddess of the earth, inspires the Bousquet family.
For this debut-vintage Gaia Rosé 2020, Pinot Noir grapes are organically grown high in Argentina’s Uco Valley in sandy, gravelly soil at a cool 4,000 feet/1,200 meters above sea level where intense sunlight and diurnal fluctuations provide elegance and acidity.
Color: Pale coppery salmon, rose gold, orange more than pink.
Aroma: Tons of floral, stone fruit blossom, cherry, smells clean, perfume,
Palate: Cherry and strawberry on the palate. Simple and straightforward. Not very complex, but enjoyable, clean fresh finish,
Pairing: The spiciness of the arugula salad almost overwhelming with the wine. The tangerines were also a bit too sweet; if you are going to do an arugula salad with a rose, stick to beets and goat cheese. The avocado and the citrus just didn’t work with the wine. As a vegetarian dish the asparagus risotto was not so great with this wine. We talked about adding ham or procuitto to the dish which would have changed things and made them much better. The roasted asparagus was alright, but would have been better if it was wrapped in proscuitto.
But the dessert! So fantastic with the rosemary, the fruit and the richness of the brie. This dish would be a perfect addition to a brunch. The wine went so well with the dessert making us think that it would also go so nicely if there were a bit of crispy proscuitto or ham topping the dish. Think ham and asparagus quiche.
Not enough oomph for the sushi.
2018 Heinrich “Naked Red”
50% Zweigelt, 35% Blaufrankisch, 15% St Laurent
As mentioned above, Heinrich is part of the respekt-biodyn which you can read more about here.
The grapes are grown in Burgenland.
Color: Medium density, ruby red with a purple rim, vibrant in color
Aroma: Earth, violets, forest floor, cherries, cherry snuff, tobacco, this is the kind of nose that we both love. So intriguing, calling you back for more again and again. Clay, minerals, soil, rose petals, each time your nose returns it picks up on new enticing elements.
Palate: Yum, said Sue, light and bright, with lovely herbs, tons of acidity, tart cherry rich diapates quickly there isn’t a long lingering finish, the texture is what is interesting with this wine. Many people would not know what to do with this wine. It is a wine for wine geeks. This may not be a sipping wine, however Sue felt she could easily sip on a glass, however, it should shine with food due to the bright acidity.
Pairing: The artichoke is enhanced nicely by this wine. It brings out an interesting nutty quality in the wine. Yummo with the risotto, tart and tart, earthy, but creamy which brings the wine back into its own. The spicy arugula, the creamy avocado, and the citrus, I was afraid to go to the salad and Sue made me do it. Much to my surprise, this pairing works so well. The wine responded perfectly to the complexity of this salad. It especially loved the chili oil which was a really nice touch to the dressing. The dessert and this wine was a bit eye watering for me, yet interesting and super tart. Sue loved the herbal dance between the rosemary and the wine. The rosemary serves as a bridge between the wine and the food bringing harmony between the two.
Domaine Bousquet “Gaia” Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
Like the rose, the organic grapes for this cabernet sauvignon from the Gaia collection come from Domaine Bousquet’s estate vineyards in Tupungato, high in Mendoza’s Uco Valley.
Color: Ruby with a garnet rim
Aroma: Cherry, vegetal bell pepper, menthol, Kir, cassiss,
Palate: Tobacco, leather, cherry snuff finish, black current tea. For Sue the wine was a bit over oaked, however many do like oaked Cabs. If you are one that likes oak and the tannins of oak with the distinctive cherry notes that are veritably correct in a Cabernet Sauvignon, this is your wine. There are many Napa wines that have all of the characteristics of this wine that are not organic and triple the price
Pairing: Unfortunately the wine was not as fantastic as the rest of the wines with our salad. The salad became a bit hot, the arugula was way too spicy and the citrus just did not jive…proving that arugula is a difficult pairing with some wines. With the salad, this is such an earthy wine that it fought with the citrus, so Sue felt that if she did this recipe to pair with this red wine she would omit the citrus and add mushrooms instead. The brie and mushroom would still work.
Our rule of thumb is that dessert should not be sweeter than the wine, and also that wine loves herbs. This wine and this dessert could not be a more perfect pairing.
The cherry, and the nuts and the rosemary, the pecans, were so fabulous with this wine. Best with a bite that has a bite of cherry and the apple.
Asparagus Lemon Risotto (Instant Pot)
- 1 lb asparagus trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 1//4 cup onion minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups vegetable broth or stock
- 1 cup arborio rice
- juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/2 cup brie rind removed and cubed
- 2 T butter
- Olive oil for sautéing
- Press Saute button on the Instant Pot.
- Saute asparagus in 2 T olive oil until fork tender (3 minutes). Remove and set aside.
- Add 1 to 2 more T olive oil to instant Pot and add onion; stir (3 minutes).
- Add garlic and stir for another minute.
- Add rice and stir, then turn off Saute mode.
- Add vegetable broth, lemon juice, lemon rind, butter, salt
- Close lid, set to sealing, cook on high pressure for 6 minutes.
- At the end of cooking time, let pressure release naturally and remove lid.
- Stir in brie and asparagus that was set aside.
Apple Puff Pastry Tart with Cherries, Rosemary and Brie
- Apples: about 6 thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh cherries, halved and pitted
- 2 T chopped rosemary
- 1 cup cubed brie, rind removed
- 2 T honey
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
- On a small baking sheet, push puff pastry to the edges to make a thin crust
- Arrange fruit on puff pastry
- Sprinkle rosemary
- Add cubed brie on top
- Sprinkle chopped pecans
- Drizzle with honey
- Bake 400 degrees on middle shelf of oven for 20 to 30 minutes
- Wendy at A day in the Life on the Farm asks “Difficult? Yes….Impossible? No”
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla goes for “Over the Top Taco Night: Pork Carnitas + 2012 Sokol Blosser Big Tree Block Pinot Noir”
- Andrea at The Quirky Cork is “Pairing Wine and Chocolate, Challenge Accepted!”
- Terri at Our Good Life has “Wines to Drink with Ramen”
- Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen advises “Keep Calm and Curry On with Mudgee Red Wines”
- Gwendolyn at Wine Predator gives us “A+ Pairings for Asparagus, Arugula, and Artichokes with organic wines from Alsace, Australia, Austria, and Argentina”
- Linda, your host, at My Full Wine Glass offers “Three wines for three ‘difficult’ foods”
- 11:00am ET
- Q1 Welcome to the #winePW wine and hard-to-pair food chat. Please introduce yourself and share a link to your blog. Visitors too!
- 11:05am ET
- Q2 For this month’s #winePW event, we’re talking about wines for picky foods – curries, chili, chocolate, certain veggies, for example. What foods challenge you? #winePW
- 11:10am ET
- Q3 When you’re faced with a hard-to-pair food, what wine do you generally look for and why? #winePW
- 11:15am ET
- Q4 Of the challenging foods out there, which one(s) did you choose to write about? Is this food regularly on the menu or is it something you rarely have? #winePW
- 11:20am ET
- Q5 What wine did you pour with your hard-to-pair food? Why this particular wine? Did the pairing work? #winePW
- 11:25am ET
- Q6 What region is your wine from? Are the food and wine in your pairing from the same region? Have you ever visited this region? #winePW
- 11:30am ET
- Q7 Tell us something interesting about the winery or producer. Does anything stand out? What’s the grape? #winePW
- 11:35am ET
- Q8 Would another wine work as well or better with this hard-to-pair food? Which one? #winePW
- 11:40am ET
- Q9 Time to ’fess up – what was an awful food and wine pairing you’d rather forget? #winePW
- 11:45am ET
- Q10 It’s been said, “What grows together, goes together.” Do you know any wine and hard-to-pair foods that fit into this category? #winePW
- 11:50am ET
- Q11 Open comment time, any thoughts or discoveries you’d like to share? #winePW
- 11:55am ET
- Shoutout to the #winePW bloggers who posted about hard-to-pair foods today: @Culinary_Cam @WendyKlik @dr_tsteffes @ArtPredator @sommstable @thequirkycork and @asiantestkitchn
- 11:59am ET
- Thanks for joining our #winePW chat on hard-to-pair foods! Join us next month when @jillbarth leads us in a chat about Midwestern US wines!