Will the hot culinary trends of 2008 continue into the new year, or will they run out of gas and give way to “the next big things”?
Only time will tell, but some top trends of the year could prove to be very good for wine lovers. We’d like to share five – selected by 1,200 chefs who are members of the American Culinary Foundation – and tell you about our own wine experiences with them.
1. Grass-fed items.
When cattle is grass-fed, the result is leaner beef that’s higher in omega-3 fatty acids. That means there’s less need for antibiotics for the cows. Leaner beef always is a good thing from a dietary perspective, although it doesn’t necessarily impact flavor all that much. So it’s not so much a matter of switching to a different wine variety in order to create the perfect match; rather, we enjoyed pairing grass-fed beef with wines that were made with sustainable farming practices. It was our way of “being green” when eating out.
2. Ethnic fusion cuisine.
Just about all food is ethnic, when you think about it. For instance, in Japan, American food (whatever that) would be considered ethnic. That said, we ran into some very interesting culinary meldings in 2008. Among our favorites: Latin American and Indian, which gave a different spice twist to traditional Latin American fare. When the meat was white, it was great with Gewurztraminer or Viognier. When it was red, Syrah seemed to work the best.
3. Asian entrÃ©e salad.
Each chef has his own “take,” but our favorite salad of the year was a cobb with miso-slathered grilled chicken, quail egg and a soy-ginger vinaigrette. There was only one wine to serve with that flavorful dish; sparkling.
4. Small plates/tapas/mezze.
Whatever you call them, smaller was better in 2008, and the spectrum of flavors when you order several dishes can be quite wide. The best wines to serve with this type of smorgasbord: Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot.
5. Bite-size desserts.
The obvious pairing partners would be dessert-style wines, but we’re still looking for a restaurant that offers a flight of sweet wines in a serving size (say, an ounce-and-a-half per) to match the sweet bites.