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Jul 8, 2008 12:47 AM

Food pairings for 1998 Opus One

I have a 1.5L bottle of 1998 Opus One that I want to drink with my wife for our anniversary. I was thinking about just doing a variety of appetizers and finger foods with the wine. Does anybody know of any good cheeses or any type of tapas type food that would go well with this bourdeax style cab-merlot blend.

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  1. Well, let me start with this just because I have to -- I'm not a huge fan of Opus One, especially relative to price.

    BUT, that being said it sounds as though you are or as tough thi is a special bottle of wine to you and your wife for some other reason, so hopefully you will really enjoy it!

    On to the pairings...!

    For cheeses I would go with harder, stronger cheeses: Aged Gouda and Aged Sharp Cheddar would probably be my first two choices, but Parmesan, Piave, Manchego, would all work well.

    Tapas-type food...

    Well, the best pairing for that wine would probably be grilled filet mignon. But that really isn't tapas-type food, the way I think of it.

    One thing you could do would be lamb rib chops. I very quickly marinate them in red wine, EVOO, fresh mint, rosemary, and garlic, and (optional) a little lemon juice and dijon mustard) then throw them on the grill a few minutes per side. (They are best to be done doube-cut, but you can do single-cut, too.)

    Another possibility is Breassola panini: Use Breassola, fontina, watercress, and some roasted garlic.

    The wine will also wok well with burgers: Traditional hamburgers, light on the condiments would be best, but lamburgers with goat cheese and onions (no other condiments) would also do the job. (My lamburger mixture is garlic powder, salt, fresh pepper, minced fresh mint and rosemary, a little crumbled dry oregano.)

    Grilled radicchio wrapped in prosciutto *may* be excellent with the wine...

    Have a happy anniversary!

    1 Reply
    1. re: whiner

      Dang! The server got me again. I'll see if I can construct the post that went to byte-heaven.

      For cheeses, I'd also add Dry Aged Jack.

      For burgers, I've had some great mini-burgers recently and think that these would go well. One featured a dollop of foie gras, but I'd skip that here. I did enjoy the mini-Kobe burger, and think that it would pair nicely.

      Do not see the Prosciutto, but could be convinced.

      In regards to the '98, it was a fair year for Napa. Good producers made good wines, but without the normal aging potential. These were great restaurant wines, as they were ready to go, almost immediately. Still, with a magnum, I'd suspect that your bottle is about right, now.

      I have not had, IIRC, a '98 Opus One. I, too, am less of a fan of this wine, though have had some good, to near great ones, over the years. I'd expect your wine to be more akin to a petite-Ch Bdx, than a 1er Cru, or even a Super Second.

      Still, happy anniversary,


      PS do not know how I did, judged against my lost post, but it was soon enough, that it should have read about like this one.

    2. Agree with Whiner:

      A hunk of real Parmigiano Reggiano, aged Gouda, aged Neal's Yard cheddar
      Grilled beef -- this includes excellent grilled burgers. I totally agree with Whiner than a high-quality grilled burger is wondrous with good Cab.
      Grilled lamb loin chops.

      For an anniversary one year with an older Heitz, we built a fire in our outdoor pit
      (it was a full moon that night), and had a Reggiano, aged Gouda (so much so it had developed those delicious protein crystals) a Rolf Beeler Gruyere, and an excellent loaf of bread. With the fire and full moon, it was...perfect. Romantic, satisfying, beautiful.

        1. Cheeses are fine with this wine, but "finger foods" conceptually might not do it justice, depending of course on what those are.

          The two finger foods that come to mind which would come closest would be grilled lamb kebabs and rich grilled steakburgers (get some cuts of fatty t-bone and prime rib in your ground beef for appropriate flavor and decadence)...

          Chunky red-meat stews are also very fitting appetizer dishes to match the wine...

          As for cheeses, Parmesan Reggiano is arguably "the" ultimate cheese match for cabernet and cab/merlot. Authentic Provolone val Padana is also incredible with it. Personally I like younger goudas with cabs as well as medium-aged cheddars (around 4 years seems to be the sweet spot). Plain goat's chevre is also a nice accompaniment.

          ANY of these cheeses can be used with the steakburgers above to create an ethereal steakcheeseburger to go with this wine. You can also shave/dust some of the cheese into a red-meat stew to bring it closer to the wine.

          May I suggest, since it's an anniversary, that a tremendous accompaniment would be another wine.... perhaps a delicious dessert wine like sauternes with a matching dessert course.

          1. I appreciate all the suggestions I am getting here. I realize that the 1998 Opus One wasn't their greatest effort but that particular wine has some sentimental value to my wife and I so I went to the effort to find that particular vintage. I've got a couple of weeks to ponder this and make a decision but here is what I am leaning towards right now: grilled lamb rib chops with mint pesto; black figs wrapped in proscuito with a bit of bleu cheese then placed on the grill just long enough to melt the cheese and crisp the proscuito; assorted cheeses; and I would like to add at least one more thing but I am still up in the air.

            7 Replies
            1. re: jpc8015

              JP... based on your leanings, IMO riesling should be your 2nd wine here...

              Figs and prosciutto are riesling all the way. Replace the blue cheese with emmental for a perfect 3-way flavor matchup there... both the 2005 and 2006 mosel vintages were superb... a kabinett or spatlese would add alot of range to this meal... the spatleses are so rich you wouldn't even need another wine for a fruit-based dessert...

              Also, mint is a very riesling-friendly essence so there's an obvious contact to your lamb dish as well...

              1. re: jpc8015

                I've made the grilled fig appetizer wrapped with prosciutto many times (I have a fig tree in my backyard), sometimes even adding a dab of blue cheese. It works well with Cab, and will be fine with your Opus. The blue cheese and prosciutto certainly pair well with Cab, and the fig finds a black fruit commonality with the Cab. I've also, instead of blue cheese, glazed the prosciutto-wrapped figs with a balsamic syrup/balsamic reduction while they were on the grill -- very lovely. Lots of tips on how to make a balsamic reduction -- it's easy as pie -- including my own, here on Chowhound.

                If I were to serve any other wine, I'd made it a dessert wine, but I'd definitely let your wife's flavor preferences direct that choice. I love Sauternes with summer fruit desserts, especially those with an almond component. Your Opus Cab could possibly work with a very dark chocolate dessert, with only the barest hint of sweetness (this is important). Even a great chocolate bar (at least 70% cacao solids) might be fun. Look at the Vosges chocolate bars, and some of the other chocolate bar brands recommended on the Chowhound boards.

                Certainly, if you don't drink all of your magnum of Opus on your anniversary, gas it or Private Preserve it, and drink it the next day. How nice you are to plan this meal for your wife. Have a lovely time.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  I'm with you on both the fig and the bleu, but have yet to get my palate around the prosciutto - gotta' try this for myself. Hey, even though I'm an old dog, there are still a few new tricks, that I can learn.

                  I've had some fig & prosciutto dishes lately, with a few good Pinot Gris (these are difficult for me to find and few and far between), that did well. Do not recall what the cheese was, but was not any form of bleu. Gosh, that was hard to type, as I am not a PG fan, but a local Italian chef via NYC did a wonderful job with both the wines and the dish. Still not a PG fan, but am starting to open the mind up a bit, after that dinner.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    I'm fond of figs and prosciutto with balsamic syrup. Alice Waters of Chez Panisse gave me the idea 15 years ago in one of my few conversations with her. I've since prepared this appetizer many times, and paired it successfully with a variety of wines. A red wine works well.
                    Lots of factors make the pairing work: the smokiness and charring from grilling, the dampening of the fig's sweetness, the "grounding" element of the balsamic and its grape commonality with the wine, the prominent tannins in the skins of the fig, and the "concentrated" prosciutto.

                    Figs (not grilled) and a creamy blue cheese are miraculous together, and even more so with a Sauternes or a dessert Riesling. One of my fondest memories is of an afternoon here in Napa Valley with my father when we drank Phelps Johannesburg Riesling paired with figs and blue cheese. My father was astounded -- he'd never had figs with blue cheese before, let alone figs and blue cheese with dessert Riesling. Afterwards, we had the best talk of our lives.

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      I'm not sure if Bill's issue was the prosciutto with the figs, or the prosciutto with the wine. If the former ... well, grilled figs with prosciutto is a classic, and one that spread far and wide from Italy, so, yeah, it works, and, yeah, you should try it for yourself. Especially while it's still charcoal bbq season.

                      If it was the pairing with the wine, I'm not sure I see the problem pairing prosciutto with a Bdx style wine. Certainly a bbq'd piece of prosc should stand up to the wine.

                    2. re: maria lorraine

                      I have to admit, the proscuitto wrapped blue cheese figs with a balsamic reduction is #2 on my last meal list. You know the list where someone asks you, what do you want you last meal to be?

                      #1 is Waygu beef.