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May 20, 2008 12:08 PM

Pairing challenge

Here are the details:

In a couple of weeks I'll be meeting and cooking for my fiance's best friend -- a rather world renowned wine judge. He's also a serious foodie on the side.

I am a chef, so cooking is not a problem...I am not so concerned with the dishes/wines I'll serve for other courses, but I'm a little stuck on the main dish because we're going to be pouring something a little odd -- it's a Dobra Zemlja zinfandel, 2005 ( I think I'll pour a Water's Crest gew├╝rztraminer, a Corison cab, and a Spoto petite syrah for other courses.

Any thoughts? The Dobra is pretty darn powerful. Difficult of dish is not an issue.


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  1. Just thinking about a "powerful zin" since I've never had that one. How about braised pork belly or veal cheeks? They hit me as bold enough flavors, but the fat when braised really seems to compliment the berry and spice of a zin.

    1. This is an Amador County zinfandel...

      You can effectively pair this wine with just about anything you'd pair a "big red" with, IMO. Plus it has the added advantage to being a bit more flexible with spices and seasonings...

      In no particular order I'd look at grilled meats, kebabs, roasts, barbecues, and rich stews. As for what kinds of meat, Zin is good with a wide range, but particularly nice with pork, lamb, venison, dark turkey & game birds in general. Also excellent with a grilled steak or prime rib... Beautiful with your favorite gourmet burger... Due to the spice friendliness, zinfandel lends itself to ethnic grills like turkish kebabs, tandoori, and grilled moroccan dishes....

      As for cheeses zinfandel is an ethereal match with parmesan reggiano. Also delicious with aged cheddars (6 years and up especially), chevre, provolone val padana. I personally love it with roquefort also.

      SO, experiment with the above. How about a hickory-grilled pork and venison burger with your favorite bbq sauce and parmesan shavings??

      Lastly, if you really want to "surprise your friends", go the extra mile and serve a LATE HARVEST Zinfandel or zinfandel port for dessert. It's a beautiful wine that is very distinctly california and a great expression of the varietal.

      1. Just design a dish with enough flavor intensity to match the flavor intensity of the wine, but not so big that the dish drowns out the flavor of the wine.

        1 Reply
        1. re: maria lorraine

          This is a very alcoholic wine and also highly flavored. We found it didn't totally obliterate the flavor of barbecued ribs and brisket as it might have many other dishes.

        2. I like the idea of a braised short rib in an intensely rich and flavorful braising liquid, which you could incorprate the zin into.

          Agree with ChicagoMike about the parm- maybe you could throw a hunk of rind into the braise.

          1. I woud pair this with a braised lamb shank. Maybe a little tomato in the braising liquid as well as red wine... a parmesan rind is not such a horrible idea in there. Nor would pancetta be a bad idea to sautee up with your mirepoix.

            Alternatively you could grill a ribeye and top it with a red oinion, red wine, and goganzola dolce sauce. Serve with rosemary shoestring fries or rosemary roasted potatos.