Red Wine With Fish, Revisited

    Normally, we answer questions from Vinesse wine club members or visitors to under the heading of “Wine FAQ.”

     But the very specific question sent in by Shirley Kmett motivated me to jot down a few thoughts of a bit more general nature.

     First, let’s answer Shirley’s question, which is:

     “Would our bottle of 2005 Sparrow Creek Zinfandel work with grilled steelhead trout? I’m thinking it would.”

     Well, Shirley, I’m thinking it would, too.

     For one thing, steelhead meat is pink – similar in hue to salmon. And Salmon with Pinot Noir is the combination that sparked the whole “red wine with fish” revolution.

     For another, some steelhead trout -particularly those that have been “farmed” – have a distinctive earthy flavor, which usually balances nicely with the fruitfulness of Zinfandel.

     Shirley didn’t mention what type of grilling she planned to do, but if she grills it backyard-barbecue-style, the wine pairing would be absolutely perfect. Zin and that “charred” flavor – whether it accompanies meat or fish – represent a match made in heaven.

     So, our advice is: Give it a try.

     And that leads me to my more general comments about food-and-wine pairing…

     Few people knew (or believed) that a dark chocolate dessert could match beautifully with certain red wines. But once somebody tried it, it was a revelation.

     Likewise, most people never would have thought to pair salmon and Pinot Noir. But that’s now among the most popular meals served in fine restaurants of the Pacific Northwest, which is a hotbed of both the fish and the wine variety.

     Or how about a rich, buttery Chardonnay alongside a thick, juicy steak with just a little bit of fat left untrimmed? That’s a common pairing at steakhouses, especially those that grill their cuts in butter.

     My point is this: Most successful food-and-wine pairings aren’t planned; they’re stumbled into.

     So I strongly urge Shirley Kmett to open that bottle of Sparrow Creek Zinfandel when she grills that steelhead trout. I suspect that their flavors will marry beautifully.

     And if they don’t? She can always save the rest of the wine to sip after the meal… or the next day.

Posted in Editor's Journal
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