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Dec 22, 2007 05:10 PM

Wine pairing for Seafood Risotto & also for Cheese

Hi -- I have been wondering about the best (if there is such a thing) pairing for a seafood risotto I am making over the holidays. The risotto will have shrimp, scallops, squid and will be prepared with a rich seafood stock. I may or may not add grated cheese -- perhaps just a bit. Bit of butter stirred in when removed from heat.

I finally chose a 2006 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa) -- any predictions? Any suggestions for a different direction to have gone? I considered a chardonnay, non-oaked, but was undecided on which one.

I'm finishing the evening with a cheese trio and wanted a wine to accompany, am having an English brie that is wrapped in birchbark, another item that I'm making (okay, it's one of my faves, I admit it, a hot asparagus dip/spread, what can I say ... ! ... it's "comfort food" to me), and a St Agur (French blue, creamy, mellow). I decided upon a wine to match the St Agur, and will let the others hopefully fall in place -- a 2004 Rasteau Cotes du Rhone Villages - Domaine de Beaurenard. I guess I selected that one as it is from the same general area of France as the St Agur cheese. I will truthfully say that the presence of the asparagus item is of some concern to me. But I am hoping the wine will transcend this need of mine to have some hot asparagus dip? (Or should I have left the asparagus dip for when I'm home alone and enjoy it with a good cold beer?)

Your thoughts are most welcome. Thank you! Mark in Minneapolis

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  1. Okay Mark...

    It's quite clear to me what you should do here... When you add it all up, the shellfish, the butter, the asparagus dip... even the brie...

    These ingredients have 2 wines in common: Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc...

    SO, to make your meal really interesting, I'd turn it into a study of these 2 great wines. You already have the S.B., now go get a nice chardonnay...

    You'll really enjoy comparing the similarities and contrasts of how these 2 wines match with your meal AND with the cheeses...

    NOW, to the cheeses... let's keep the theme consistent and find a great cheese plate to truly do justice to the wines...

    1) Your asparagus dip matches BOTH Chardonnay and S.B. splendidly, add to it the following 2 cheeses
    2) Chevre, a great match for both wines
    3) Gruyere, ditto

    The blue cheese is really an outlier here

    5 Replies
    1. re: Chicago Mike

      Sounds like a great idea. I was thinking Chablis, until you started with the cheeses. If one did some rich cheeses with the risotto, then I might go with something with a touch of oak, say a Meursault. Still good acid and not too much wood. The SB counter-point would be interesting, and that is certainly a big part of food/wine pairings.

      With the Bire, I'd go for the oakier [is that a real word?] Chard, but still from FR.

      Don't get into asparagus, so I have to go with your suggestion. I hate the "tinge" that it applies to so very many wines, and just cannot get into it, but that is me.


      1. re: Bill Hunt

        I assume the asparagus here will be done with butter and/or cheese and some white-friendly herbs, as it's in a dip during the cheese course... that should soften the edges and tie it in with the SB and/or chardonnay, IMO.

        1. re: Bill Hunt

          Hmmm. I may leave the asparagus dip out. Or serve it early in the afternoon a couple of hours prior to dinner. Or leave it for another time! Thanks!

        2. re: Chicago Mike

          Thank you for this. I have totally enjoyed reading your comments and suggestions. I will make great use of your ideas in the future, also. I very much like the idea of enjoying the differences and similarities of the two wines (S.B. and the Chardonnay). I will try that. Yes, the blue cheese -- the St Agur is a mellow, creamy blue -- beautiful, really. I first tried it when I lived near London two years ago and became enthralled with it. Only recently have I found it at a local wine shop, and I will be using that as it was the cheese highly enjoyed by my upcoming dinner guest and myself while in that country. So it is there for "old times' sake" -- the dip is (I haltingly say) a combination of asparagus, mayonnaise, parmesan, garlic and baked -- what can I say -- I had this at a party and loved it. I do add some mozzarella and crab meat, however, for a bit more substance. The good thing about having only two of us for dinner is that the two white wines will easily stretch towards the cheeses -- that will finish the meal. I do believe Chevre will be good and will add that -- the Gruyere -- yes, I will try that. Thanks again! I'm just back from visiting family for early Christmas, so my response here was delayed.

          1. re: Minneapolis Mark

            Now that you've provided the recipe for the asparagus dip, there's one substitution you may want to try. All the ingredients (asparagus, mayo, garlic, and crab) have chardonnay written all over them. And they should match sauvignon blanc quite nicely as well. The odd ingredient here is the parmesan... that's not a great "white wine" cheese, although it's fair with chardonnay.

            If you could experiment with substituting either gruyere or chevre instead of parmesan, and serving this with chardonnay or SB, you'll have an incredible match, IMO.

        3. Well, cost aside, my most preferred pairing for the dish would be a Blanc du Blancs Champagn.

          My favorite still suggestion would be a Sauvignon Blanc that saw a little french oak. A Graves would be my first choice but there are a few CA versions, too. Sadly, there really isn't an inexpensive route here, as most of the sub $30 CA versions are not well made, imo, or use (U.S.) oak as a flavor enhancer as opposed to soaking up the fruit. Something like a Peter Micahel or Araujo or Merry Edwards, however, would be awesome.

          Assuming you want something you can reasonably find for less than $40 (or less than $25, in these cases) I think you could do well with some Italian possibilities...

          You could do a Soave that saw a hint of oak. I really like the Pra Monte Grande and that is only about $15 in my market.

          Also, there are some great Arneis. Ceretto makes one for about $20 and that should be reasonably findable. And if you can find it, the Giacosa is usually awesome.

          Lots of the best whites from Friuli would work for you, but those are getting more expensive, again.

          All that said, I think you are fine with your SA SB.

          The SB will pair reasonably well with the asparagus, too.

          The brie, to me, is also something that would pair best with a judiciously (French) oaked white wine. Your CdR should pair reasonably well with the blue cheese.

          1 Reply
          1. re: whiner

            The 2004 Rasteau Cotes du Rhone -- I had to try it the other night to see what it was like. It was very good. Now I am hoping there are more when I go back to the wine shop tomorrow!! Many flavors and a very good wine. I had been wondering about a Soave. Thanks!

          2. With the risotto: Your choice of the 2006 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc for the risotto is a good one. I have had that wine and its high acid will work well with the seafood.

            An alternative (or addition): A white Rhone or a California Rousanne or Marsanne (or blend thereof). California's success with white southern rhone varieties is one of the unsung successes of the American wine industry. When His Bobness announces it the whole price structure will Parkerize.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Worzel Gummidge

              I did try the Mulderbosch, as I had a few bottles on hand. It was very good, but I was surprised by the effervesence. Is that typical? There was a Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc in the shop I was at, also, but I passed that by in favor of the S.B. Have you tried that one? Thoughts? I am going to go shopping for some CA white southern Rhones, then, also, and will enjoy trying them out. Thanks! Mark

            2. My personal favs involve those particular cheeses and a nice auslese, Monchoff perhaps.