Pairing Beef Stroganoff and Wine

    A combination of beef, mushrooms and sour cream, Beef Stroganoff was the prize-winning recipe created for a cooking competition held in the 1890s in St. Petersburg, Russia.

     The Russians have been known to attach the names of famous households to their cuisine, and that’s how the dish got its name. Count Pavel Stroganov, a noted 19th century gourmet (as well as a friend of Alexander III and a celebrity in turn-of-the-century St. Petersburg), is often credited with creating Beef Stroganoff, or having a chef who did so.

     But, in fact, a recipe by that name appears in a cookbook published in 1871, well ahead of the heyday of the genial count. So, the origin of the dish remains open to both interpretation and speculation.

     One thing we know for sure: Beef Stroganoff can be a challenge to pair with wine.

     Obviously, it’s not the beef that presents the conundrum. Nor is it the mushrooms. As with many dishes, the flavor of Beef Stroganoff is defined by its sauce, and this one is based on sour cream.

     Hmm… beef almost always calls for a hearty red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon, but sour cream, with its milk base, almost demands pairing with a rich, buttery Chardonnay. Hmm…. indeed!

     What to do? Well, in an instance such as this, one must look beyond the “usual” answers and dig a little deeper into the nuances of the dish.

     One excellent match is Chateauneuf-du-Pape or a “G-S-M” (a Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blend) from Australia. The softness of the Grenache complements the fatness of the sour cream, while the alcohol level enables the wine to stand up to the weight of the dish as a whole.

     A nice, dry rose is another way to go. The red fruit flavor matches the beef, while the high acidity serves as a counterbalance to the cream.

     A third approach would be simply to succumb to the sauce and grab a bottle of buttery Chardonnay. Hey, if we can drink red wine with fish, why not white wine with beef? It’s a pairing that definitely can work with the appropriate sauce.

Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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