What to drink with spiced shepherd pie ?
I found a recipe that gives a new and really interesting twist to shepherd's pie. The meat is cooked with tomatoes, garlic and quite a lot of cumin, the corn is topped with Aleppo chile (and I like to add zaatar too) and I add nutmeg and shallots to the mashed potatoes. My question is what kind of wine would pair well with this ?
Depends on the amount of tomatoes. I find that Sangiovese (Chianti and others) do a good job with the acid that they impart. Sangioveses also have an affinity for garlic. If they are secondary, then you can go towards a Zin for the chile. Depending on the cumin, the Zin would go nicely. I use quite a bit in everyday cooking and often pair the beef with it with Zins.
Then, I'd grab a Zin. Normally, we usually do a "dry-run," of a dish, unless we know it well, and I'll grab a carrier of the "usual suspects." Wife and I will then set up six glasses and taste. Next night, we'll pare down the selection to examples of chosen varietal(s). By that time, we usually have the exact pairing (by our standards) and then have the vineyard and probably the vintage. It's a bit of work, but has never failed us.
When we have the event catered, I'll go by the seat of my pants, based on the exact menu/recipe. If I have any problems, or questions, I'll ask for a pre-tasting, just to make sure. By now, my caterer knows where I will start and usually has a mixed case of "suggested" wines delivered with tasting.
I try to NEVER serve a dish, that I have not tasted before. It does happen, but I fight against it. This, of course, is for a dinner, that I am hosting. If I put my stamp of approval on it, I need to know everything there is to know about the dish and my wine selection.
It's a lot of effort, but well worth it for my guests. Besides, someone has to do the "heavy lifting."
Enjoy, and please post what you chose and why,