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Mar 22, 2008 07:24 AM

can you prepare sea bass to go with a big red?

I am having some of my wine tasting group over and have selected some wines I want to serve. (trying to stay within my cellar). the problem is they don't match with the foods I want to serve- mainly because I can't serve meat.

I want to start with a tuna tar tare with 2003 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage Blanc Chevalier de Sterimberg or1 997 Beaucastel Blanc Cuvée Roussanne Vieilles Vignes (a good match)

then couple pizza tart preparations with pistachio basil pesto and forest mushrooms with truffle oil paired with a 1990 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia Soprana ( good match)

now the problem- I really want to serve a parchment paper hong kong style sea bass but I'd like to do it with a bigger red- a 1986 Chateau Montelena,1997 Ojai Syrah Cuvée Henry Daniel or 1995 Tardieu-Laurent Hermitage . (the fish has a marin, but mostly soy sauce, vegetable broth, garlic, and ginger.)

And I'll probably make some sort of dark chocolate dessert either with a vintage port or Domaine des Baumard Quarts de Chaume

I really want to throw caution into the wind and just do it. would that be a big mistake?
Or is there another en Papillote preparation that would fit the red wine better?

(suggesting another fish wont work because the salmon here now is farm raised and awful)

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  1. "I really want to throw caution into the wind and just do it. would that be a big mistake?"

    If you really throw caution into the wind, you don't ask...

    1 Reply
    1. re: RicRios

      O.K. so I'm not throwing caution into anything. how should I prepare the sea bass to go with one of my wines? (consider this diner impossible but without the fake resume)

    2. Had a wonderful seared sea bass with a molasass demi-glace in NOLA recently, that went wonderfully with a Sea Smoke Southing PN. I most often do fish, even lighter/whiter fish with PNs and Syrahs. The actual prep often dictates whether it will be a big, bold Central Coast PN, or a lighter, more Burgundian style.

      With your prep, I think something lighter would be more in order.


      9 Replies
      1. re: Bill Hunt

        "something lighter would be more in order"

        Yup, like a red Sancerre.

        1. re: RicRios

          Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of a Villages BJ. An old-style OR PN might work too. "Big red," well, I don't really see that happening.


          1. re: Bill Hunt

            Thank for the input. I know you guys are right. I just have too many limitation and am a little too hard headed. I really like the en Papillote preparation because I can prepare it ahead of time and enjoy my company and the wine. I don't really like pinots, so that's not a good option.
            What if I serve the Hermitage but used more mushrooms, cumin, thyme oregano to get an earthier flavors. Or maybe a eggplant and tomato puree?

            Thank for you help, and please don't just say Yea, do what you want to appease me. Bill, you said you have had lighter fish with syrah? is it only grill preps that allow you to do this?

            1. re: Goofy Yno

              Are you set on serving sea bass? As others have mentioned, the preparation/ingredients scream white wine or possibly, maybe a lighter style red. A hermitage would be a risky pairing with an asian style preparation and the ingredients you mention. What about scallops en papillote? I found a recipe that uses black truffles (not necessarily the most seasonal currently) that would possibly allow a fuller bodied pairing:


              1. re: Bhutani

                No, I'm not set on the sea bass, but we keep kosher so we have a lot of dietary restrictions- i.e. no shell fish. I think the Asian prep is out. if there were another prep or fish that was in season, i could do it.

                1. re: Goofy Yno

                  I see you keep kosher foodwise, but not on the wine side.
                  Interesting, to say the least.
                  Although I must admit, the Idol Worship ( "Avodah Zarah" ) basis for the notion of kashrut in wines is certainly hard to swallow.
                  But that, I guess, is subject for another thread.

                  1. re: RicRios

                    As an aside, we keep kosher in the sense of no pig/shellfish or milk and meat but can eat out of the house and can certainly enjoy any wine, rabbinical blessing or not haha. It is interesting how few kosher wines there are, especially considering the Rothschilds were prominent members of the Jewish community.

                    1. re: RicRios

                      Not to take thins too far off subject, but..
                      I think like most religious philosophies, there are degrees to the finer points. we try to stay within the main spirit of the rules. IE we buy non-kosher food that have kosher ingredients.
                      As for the wine- I like wine too much. Especially with mechuvel wines- the pasteurization is a killer.

                2. re: Goofy Yno

                  The only pairings that I have done have been with grilled/pan-seared sea bass. That does not mean that other preps will not work, only that I have not tried them. As with pompono en papillote, I normally look towards a white Burg, in the Meurseualt/Montrachet area, but that is just me.

                  If you find a bigger red that works with your prep, please post it. I usually start with prep/wines from my background and then work to find the ultimate out of my cellar. I also usually keep tastes of all wines for all courses, just to see what might surprise/enlighten me, when doing chef's/sommelier's tastings. When I am surprised, or enlightened, I try to make note of the fact, and incorporate it into my next meal. I like the good surprises, and usually want to share them.

                  I love reds with fish, but so much depends on the fish and on the prep. That's why I usually reach for PNs and the occasional Syrah (New & Old World examples).

                  With bigger reds, i.e. Merlots, Zins, Cabs (all flavors), Nebbiolas, etc., I often get a "metallic" taste with many fish dishes. I usually cannot get past that aspect. Are there other varietals, that might work? I'd guess that there are, but I have not encountered them, and I do try a lot of off-the-wall pairings, especially at home, or when faced with 8 wines and a fish dish.

                  'Cause I like big reds, and I like fish, please share any success stories, so I can give them a go.


          2. I've read through all the suggestions, all are very good and on point. I love wine also and can be pretty particular about pairings.... having said that, I think that one needs to not be burdened by "rules". If you like it... go with it. Not all palates will always agree. As for the sea bass and Montelena. Wow.. I would drop the papillote and go with a pan sear, almost a blackening, and laid on a bed of "sofrito" made withe sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers etc... Get those bold flavors going. Are you talking real sea bass or that chilean "sea bass". If you are using the chilean sea bass it will work better because the chilean sea bass has more oil in it than the wild stripers here in New England. I wouldn't necessarily throw caution to the wind, but most things can be accomplished if you have the desire. Good luck it sounds like a fantastic party.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Lenox637

              Thank you Lenox.

              I am personally not hung up on "rules" hence the reason I have a cellar full of big reds, (and whites- I seem to only really like rhone varitals) in an almost vegetarian house. I don't mind. I drink the wine I like and eat the food I like and am quite happy. But I would hate to push my barbaric ways on others....

              I like your suggestion- my papillote may be in the trash. Maybe I'll grill the fish with some bold flavors in either a sofrito or an eggplant relish.

            2. Yes, I would say that for the most part what you're contemplating is a mistake... both from the point of view of the food/wine match and also the potential waste of some
              really interesting wines...

              IMO the best red wine for the tuna and grilled sea bass is Pinot Noir, not nebbiolo, cabernet, or syrah.... you could also look at some nice Roses here....

              That said, if you insist on these deeper reds, you might try preparing the fish in more rich-red friendly fashion, i.e. "au poivre", marinated then grilled medium well, fish kebabs, a rich red-broth fish stew....

              As another way of looking at it, I can understand your not liking red meat, but why not get some super white wines to match these dishes ?

              Garlic and ginger are both tremendous flavor matches with riesling... gewurztraminer too... you can hardly miss on this meal with these wines, IMO.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Chicago Mike

                O.K. I'm getting the idea that my square peg (sea bass) is not fitting in the round hole. I'm a little hard headed sometimes.

                what if I do a grilled portobello stuffed with ratatouille? I'd still want to serve it with one of the previously mentioned wines-a 1986 Chateau Montelena,1997 Ojai Syrah Cuvée Henry Daniel or 1995 Tardieu-Laurent Hermitage , maybe the Hermitage to keep the provincial theme. or would you pick another one?

                1. re: Goofy Yno

                  We had a great night. one couple dropped out at the last minute, so my wife made me drop the pizza course.

                  Started with a spinach and roasted garlic hummus with :
                  1997 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc - France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (4/4/2008)
                  lemon, apple and honeydew nose. great balance, minerality, pineapple good long finish (94 pts.)

                  then had a tuna tar tare and avocado tower on a bed of heirloom lettuce with heirloom tomatoes with:
                  2003 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Hermitage Blanc Chevalier de Sterimberg - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage (4/6/2008)
                  lemon meringue nose with citrus undertones. nice big oily attack with complex middle and very long finish of crisp apple. (95 pts.)

                  then had a cedar plank grilled Iron jaw snapper encrusted in Herbs de Provence over ratatouille (the fish guy at whole foods suggested it. I thought it worked fairly nicely. I'm not sure it added much to the wine, but in my opinion, it didn't take anything from it either.)
                  1995 Tardieu-Laurent Hermitage - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Hermitage (4/6/2008)
                  rubber, tar , earth, mushrooms, black pepper and cherry nose. good acidity, with more earth on the finish. good balance. (93 pts.)

                  Dark chocolate brownie with chocolate chips and almonds in an Oreo cookie crust covered in a chocolate ganache and topped with raspberries.
                  1977 Taylor (Fladgate) Porto Vintage - Portugal, Douro, Porto (4/6/2008)
                  nice nose of cherry, rhubarb, carmel . good richness and dept with a long finish. decanted for 12 hours and needed all of it- was too medicinal/alcoholic at 10, but this resolved by 12. (92 pts.)

                  1. re: Goofy Yno

                    Sounds like a wonderful evening. I was curious, I'm a huge S. Rhone fan and was wondering how your '97 Beaucastel Blanc was. I have had many different vintages but not the '97. The CDP Blancs of theirs that I have liked the most had a significant amount of age on them. I'd be interested if your tasting notes were available. Once again, congrats on the dinner, I hope you all had a great time.

                    1. re: Goofy Yno

                      Hi Goof... thanks for the dining report, we often don't get them.

                      First off, as with every meal where wine is emphasized, I hope you kept the two whites from course 1 and 2 on the table throughout the meal. Alot of people will have one wine with this course, then take it off the table, have another wine with next, then off the table, etc... when you do that you miss out on the opportunity to match the wines up with subsequent courses... who cares if the table gets messy with 4 or 5wine glasses... mess is the expression of gluttony :)... the important thing is to "line the glasses up" in a left-to-right order for each diner so you can always re-fill the glass with the correct wine.

                      I say that b/c IMO your 3rd entree (the snapper and ratatouille) really looks like a white wine dish also...

                      And that would be my only suggestion here... to try a white with course 3 next time and compare it to the syrah.

                      In fact, looking at this whole meal it seems like the perfect platform for an EXTENSIVE white wine tasting. You've got a southern and northern rhone white... why not add:

                      1) A sauvignon blanc, which looks to pair with alot of things here, including the avocado, the spinach, the snapper, ratatouille, the tuna...

                      2) A chardonnay... great pairing with the garlic hummus, the snapper, the tuna, etc....

                      There's just so many whites that might have really shined with this meal... a kabinett, a pinot gris, a garganega, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc... you've got the herbs cranked up pretty well and a gewurztraminer might be smashing here too....

                      And again, just pour about 5 glasses for each diner and leave them on the table throughout. Maximum hedonistic indulgence :)

                      Thanks again for the report, very appetizing.

                      1. re: Chicago Mike

                        Of course you are right Mike, This was a very white oriented meal. But for me it was extraordinary to even serve two whites in an evening. Up till about a year ago I could not find a white I really liked, this include some pretty amazing Burgundies and Bordeaux which I have had been the benefactor of bottles beyond my means. But I do like rhone whites and am gradually accumulating some. as my tastes evolve, maybe someday, I'll be able to match my food appropriately.