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Quick request for wine pairing assistance

alanbarnes Jul 3, 2008 05:59 PM

Ahhh, online menus.

Dinner tonight looks like it's going to be a shared first course of sautéed veal sweetbreads with mushrooms, potato puree, bacon, capers, rosemary and Marsala. One entrée is likely to be a bouillabaisse of cod, skate, squid, mussels, and shrimp with saffron, Pernod, leeks, tomato, fennel, grilled bread and aioli. The other will probably be seared dayboat scallops with sweet corn risotto, cherry tomatoes, basil and Maine lobster butter. Trying to find one bottle that will pair reasonably well with everything.

Some of the wines on the list in the range we're looking at are two sparklers (Domaine Carneros or Roederer Estate NV Brut), some Sauvignon Blancs (Fiddlehead 2005 Santa Ynez, St. Supery 2006 Napa, Kim Crawford 2007 Marlborough (NZ), John Anthony 2006 Carneros, Karly 2006 Amador), and a few Chardonnays (Macrostie 2006 Carneros, Dehlinger 2005 Russian River, Jordan 2005 Russian River, Rodney Strong 2005 Chalk Hill Sonoma). There’s also a magnum of Billecart-Salmon brut rose, but that’s probably a little much in terms of both quantity and price.

Another possibility is to order different wines for each dish, but there's no way of knowing what will be available BTG until we get there. Nevertheless, general recommendations are welcome. There isn't any dedicated wine staff at the restaurant, and I've found that the servers' recommendations can be hit and miss. So, Hounds, any help?

  1. maria lorraine Jul 3, 2008 07:33 PM

    Just one bottle? I'd do the magnum of Billecart-Salmon Rose Champagne.

    Oh, just read that this will be a bit much.

    BTG, then:
    Sweetbreads: Rose Champagne
    Bouillabaisse: Rose
    Scallops: Chardonnay, Champagne, Rose Champagne

    Ooops, you're probably right in the middle of things now. Wish you'd have posted sooner. It will all probably go well, nonetheless. Are you dining in Sacto?

    1. w
      whiner Jul 3, 2008 08:15 PM

      When in doubt, Champagne.

      Doubley true here. I prefer the Domaine Carneros over the Roederer Estate by a hefty margin.

      2 Replies
      1. re: whiner
        maria lorraine Jul 3, 2008 08:26 PM


        I know you loves your bubbles. I've been impressed with Le Reve (Domaine Carneros) but haven't tasted their other offerings lately. Any recs?

        Yes, seems like the Roederer Estate has dropped a bit in quality, but on sale for $18 is pretty great. What do you think of L'Ermitage? I think some of the grower Champagnes have it beat for the same amount of money...

        Appreciate your checking in with that great palate of yours and letting me know...

        1. re: maria lorraine
          whiner Jul 3, 2008 10:29 PM

          "Appreciate your checking in with that great palate of yours..."

          Awwww.... ;-)

          I'm basically in the same boat as you re: Roederer Estate. Yes, at $18 on sale it is a good buy, but I think 1) thier quality has dropped and 2) the L'Ermitage is never worth the money.

          Re: Domaine Carneros, I really like their basic bottling when I can find it under $23. To be perfectly honest, there are some pretty good grower Champagnes @ $30 at K&L, so I don't generally go into the mid twenties for CA (or OR stuff, though I also like Argyle quite a bit).

          Also, I'm loving the Torti (Italy -- Oltrepo Pavese) sparkling wines in the low-mid tweties right now.

          As for the more expensive domestic stuff, I agree on Le Reve, but my favorite is actually the Soter Rose of Pinot Noir, which I think gives any sub $70 Rose Champagne a serious run for its money.

      2. c
        Chicago Mike Jul 3, 2008 09:12 PM

        SWEETBREADS: A number of wines work for "sweetbreads" but given your recipe with bacon, mushroom, and rosemary notes, overall this dish really favors Cabernet Sauvignon or Nebbiolo.

        BOUILLABAISE: Rose would be my first choice by a nose over chardonnay. Muscadet a distant 3rd.

        GRILLED BREAD w/ LEEKS/ TOMATO/ FENNEL & AIOLI... Sauvignon blanc might be my first choice here if I was looking at this in isolation. But when I consider this as fingerfood to accompany the rest of the meal, Chardonnay seems like the best pick, especially given how nicely chardonnay matches both the bouillabaise and the scallops dish.

        SCALLOPS: One obvious best fit.... The scallops, sweet corn, basil, and especially butter put this way over the top for chardonnay.

        NOW for the more difficult question.... what if I can only pick one wine for all of these dishes. Well it might be chardonnay EXCEPT that isn't much of a match for the Sweetbreads. So, if I can pick 2 widely accessible wines they would be Cabernet for the Sweetbreads and Chardonnay for everything else...

        But, hypothetically, let's say I can only have one wine for all of these dishes, then without much hesitation I'd pick a Riesling Kabinett or a soft spatlese. While that's not a "first pick" for any of these dishes, it matches them all well enough to be your single common wine for the entire meal, IMO.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chicago Mike
          maria lorraine Jul 3, 2008 09:31 PM

          The leeks, tomato and fennel are all part of the bouillabaisse "stew." It is served in the bowl with a dollop of the aioli, traditionally called rouille, on top, and accompanied by the grilled bread. Rose is the traditional pairing.

        2. alanbarnes Jul 3, 2008 10:47 PM

          Thanks, all! I appreciate the responses on such short notice. But at least since we're in Sacramento the time is a bit earlier than for those of you on the right-hand side of the country. Here's the report back...

          I went with the scallops, but DW chose the fish special (pan-roasted Alaskan salmon w/ lemon-caper butter, mashed potatoes, and green and yellow beans). Looked for a standard bottle of rose champagne, but found no joy; limited wine list and all. And although the Billecart-Salmon sounded very tasty, the drive home ruled out buying a magnum. (Theoretically we could have consumed only half the bottle, but we're constitutionally incapable of leaving a wine like that alone.)

          We've had all the bubblies on the list a number of times, and although we enjoy them, they just didn't cry out to us. Since DW is a big chardonnay fan, and since my main (the scallops) seemed to want chardonnay, we went for a Franciscan Cuvee Sauvage. At under $50 it was priced close to retail. Always nice to find a bargain.

          It worked out beautifully. The lemon-caper butter was a major component in the salmon, and there was probably a full cup of the "sweet corn risotto," with its major lobster / butter flavor, served with four decent-sized scallops. So the chardonnay was the perfect match for both of those. And it did a good job of standing up to the sweetbreads, too.

          I suppose it would be hard to have an unsuccessful dinner with good food, decent wine, and the kids out of town for the long weekend, but the input from all of you added a little extra something. Thanks again.

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