“Red wine with meat, white wine with fish.”
For eons, that was the mantra of both winemakers and chefs, who sought to simplify the often-mystifying challenge of pairing our favorite adult beverage with specific dishes.
That myth was exploded in 1989 when David Rosengarten and Joshua Wesson released the groundbreaking book, “Red Wine with Fish: The New Art of Matching Wine with Food.”
Held up as a prime example of a sublime red wine and fish pairing was Pinot Noir poured alongside salmon.
What we’ve learned in succeeding years through constant experimentation and a new generation of creative chefs is that wine should be selected to match the most dominant flavor of a dish. Simply put, you don’t pair wine with spaghetti; you pair it with the spaghetti sauce.
As the popularity of ethnic cuisine exploded across the United States and around the world, new wine pairing challenges were presented. With so many dishes showcasing so many spices, many of them hot, another approach was needed. Instead of seeking complementary flavors, we sometimes sought opposing qualities, such as a high level of acidity in the wine to balance the heat of the dish.
These days, one of my go-to books when it comes to pairing wine with unusual or challenging dishes is “Kendall-Jackson’s Small Plates, Perfect Wines: Creating Little Dishes with Big Flavors.” It’s a cookbook, written by Lori Lyn Narlock, that includes suggested wine pairings for all of the recipes.
Here are 10 pairings that even an avid wine drinker and/or foodie may find surprising:
* Sauvignon Blanc — Lemon-Chicken Kebobs with Moroccan Herb Sauce
* Chardonnay — Caramelized Pear and Walnut Salad with Prosciutto
* Riesling — Curry-Dusted Halibut with Arugula and Jasmine Rice
* Muscat Canelli — Plum Crostadas
* Rosé — Chilled Corn Soup with Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
* Pinot Noir — Grilled Eggplant and Tomatoes
* Merlot — Lamb-Filled Roasted Onions
* Zinfandel — Roasted Cauliflower with Braised Radicchio
* Syrah — Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo
* Cabernet Sauvignon — Braised Chicken with Swiss Chard
Red wine with white meat? White wine with spicy dishes? Wine with salad? All can work.
Wine-and-food pairing need not be a daunting endeavor. Keep an open mind, be willing to try new things, and you’ll soon be enjoying some truly satisfying and memorable — not to mention surprising — culinary experiences.