If you are truly a wine lover, the natural progression in educating your palate is to learn about wine and food pairings. When I took my WSET Level Two Certification course, I learned from local instructor DiMaggio Washington that you can pair one of two ways: “like with like” or “opposites attract.” I keep this in my mind when I do pairing classes, and I backup my own thoughts by double-checking them against What to Drink With What you Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen A. Page. Another wine expert, Jeff Jacobson, Wine Chair of the former Wine Classic, suggested this great book to me. Wine and cheese plates are great, but they add up in calories and can get a little predictable. Can you suggest some fresh, healthy appetizers that pair well with wine?
With spring just around the corner, there are plenty of pairing options ready for the picking at your local farmer’s market.
For a classic appetizer, serve vine-ripened tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar and topped with buffalo mozzarella. Pair this delicious starter with an equally acidic wine. Wines to try include: Champagne, pinot grigio, pinot noir or even Chianti, to match an Italian theme.
Looking for a starter with a little more pizzazz? Try a fruit plate with some delicious sliced kiwi, pear, grapes, walnuts and goat cheese over fresh greens. To pair, look for wines that are slightly on the sweet side: Brut rose champagne, gewürztraminer, Muscat, Riesling or even a sparkling sake. And if you want to downplay the fruits’ sweetness, try a grassy sauvignon blanc to complement the greens instead. Can you suggest a main course that pairs well with wine?
Pizza isn’t a classic Italian wine pairing for nothing. Easily shared, pizza is bursting with bold, acidic flavors begging for a wine of equal caliber. Remember that regional foods work perfectly with regional wines, and just like any other food and wine pairing, the focal point of the dish is often the sauce. Italian wines are meant to be consumed with food 99 percent of the time, so your pizza pie is best served with Chianti, Sangiovese, Barbera or Primitivo; and for white wine lovers, you’ll do well with a Prosecco or pinot grigio. No wine pairing is complete without dessert. Any suggestions?
How about caramel apples with a tawny Port? Or fresh lemon meringue pie lightens up a decadently sweet French Sauterne. Ripe blueberries and almonds pair beautifully with a wine reminiscent of dark berries – perhaps a Zinfandel? Now, you’re done!