Monday, September 15, 2014

Wine Tip of the Week: Don't Fear! Be Daring with Pairings!

Food and wine pairings - if you read about them or talk to people about them, you will hear about all sorts of rules. These rules have led to standard pairing suggestions which are OK, but staying within only those standard suggestions limits you and your potential food and wine pairing experiences.  You can't throw out all the rules, as many are based on how certain elements of food interact with certain elements of wine.  Spicy hot food with a big tannic red wine is simply never a good idea, but red wine with fish - sometimes is a good (or even a great) idea!  This week's tip was inspired by a wonderful dinner we enjoyed this week during our time in Spain.  

A small nearby town just happens to be home to two different Michelin starred restaurants. We were able to get reservations at El Corral del Indianu, a fantastic place that I can't recommend highly enough.  Our tasting menu was focused on great local products, with several dishes featuring tomatoes and several featuring fresh sardines and other fresh seafood.  The restaurant did not offer dish by dish wine pairings, but offered to select a sparkling cava, a white, and a red wine to pair with the meal. The completely outside the box pairing was when smaller glasses were brought to the table along with a bottle of Amontillado sherry. What is this in the middle of our meal???  Amontillado sherry is a darker dry sherry with an oxidized nutty flavor that can be an acquired taste, but one that I have definitely acquired.  I have used, and seen this type of Sherry used before or after meals, typically with cheese or nuts. 

The daring pairing with the sherry for our meal? A dish of slowly cooked goat with herbs, mushrooms, toasted onion and a red onion broth.  The dish was delicious - rich goat, earthy mushrooms, a first ever for me red onion broth that complemented the rich dish very well.  Now the pairing with the sherry.  WOW!  The excellent Amontillado sherry focused the nutty flavors in the meat and the mushrooms, and accentuated a tiny bit of sweetness in the onion broth. One of the most interesting and transformative pairings I've had in quite some time.  Think outside the box (or bottle) and don't be afraid to try a pairing that may be a bit wild and crazy, but also may be absolutely delicious.

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