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Jul 2, 2011 07:28 AM

More wine pairing questions

I'm starting to get more into pairing wine, making sure that the wine really does enhance the flavours of the food & vice versa. But, when I pick out wines I seem to get very hit & miss results with my own 'instincts' on pairing. So could you wonderful people help with a couple dishes that I often whip up at home? :)

My girlfriend's signature dish, which I love, is a Gorgonzola & Porcini Mushroom Risotto. What would be the perfect wine? I tried this with a Cab Sauv & that seemed to work quite nicely, but it was a little overpowering... Maybe a Sangiovese?

Also, what would work well with a really simple grazing platter? (prosciutto, olivers, tzatziki, artichoke dip, maybe a little chorizo or arancini)

TIA :)

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  1. Quick tip that works 90-95% of the time . . . with regional cuisine, drink the region's wine . . . .

    White truffles go REALLY well with Nebbiolos from Piedmonte, for example. A classic Provençal bouillabaisse works really well with the white wines from Provence and nearby Languedoc. And so on . . . .

    This is NOT to say these wines would be the *only* wines that will work with these dishes -- far from it! But when experimenting, and you're not sure what to do, it's a great (and virtually foolproof) strategy.


    Sangiovese would work; so, too, a Nebbiolo. Manzanilla or Fino, as long as it's *really* fresh.


    1. I've talked to wine geeks who have spent time in Provence and the two of them reported the official, or semi-official, risotto wine there is Chateau Simone blanc from the appellation of Palette. So consider a white wine. Chateau Simone switched importers and is now brought in by the highly respected Neil Rosenthal and the price has shot up to about $65 to $70 a bottle. But consider other white wines from clairette, ugni blanc, grenache blanc or vermentino.

      9 Replies
      1. re: SteveTimko

        Interesting, I'll have to rustle up a bottle from somewhere. But, would that work in this case, I mean, even with the strong gorgonzola? My girlfriend uses gorgonzola picante, as opposed to gorgonzola dolce which has a milder flavour. Wouldn't the nuances of the white wines be somewhat lost?

        1. re: Hugery

          Good point. The acidity of a good white wine can cut through a lot, but maybe not that.
          I'd say give it a try.

          1. re: SteveTimko

            Ok, but I'll keep an eye out for the Chateau Simone. Thanks :)

          2. re: Hugery

            I was thinking red with the risotto . . . while it IS true that a Provençal risotto is often paired with a Palette, they don't use a lot of gorgonzola in their dishes . . . now paella -- and rice dishes of that ilk -- absolutely white!

          3. re: SteveTimko

            Re: Ch. Simone--that's a lot of money (at a top-quality Burgundy level) for what I've found to be in the past at best a pleasant but unspectacular wine. Also, how can there be an "official" or even "semi-official" wine for any one dish, esp. given how varied in flavors a risotto can be? (Think: seafood/tomato/saffron vs., well, gorgonzola). There are decent Provencal whites (Cassis goes nicely with fish), but overall, a lackluster bunch, imho. For the op's dish, I'd suggest something nebbiolo based--say a Carema; or from the Valtellina, both for a little less weight and tannin than Barolos or Barbarescos, but with good acid, fruit, and fragrance. For the grazing platter, any well-balanced, minerally white, like a Cotes du Rhone, Friulano, an Oregon pinot gris, a Godello or Albarino form Spain, or a Vermentino di Gallura from Sardinia.

            1. re: bob96

              Thanks Bob. Follow up question, would a Dr. Loosen Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett (and I might also have one Blue Slate Kabinett left) work well?

              Or maybe John Duval Plexus (marsanne, rousanne, viognier - hence CduR style) work for the tasting platter?

              1. re: bob96

                So Bob, you wouldn't call Muscadet the official or semi-official wine for oysters? What about Sauternes or Vouvray Moelleux for fois gras? Franken Silvaner and mussels?
                The people that I talked to tried risotto at several top notch Provence restaurants. A common theme was that they recommended pairing it with Chateau Simone blanc.

                1. re: SteveTimko

                  I'm not Bob, but can I play?

                  I don't think ANY wine is the "official" or "semi-official" ANTHING! That sort of phrasing is -- and I *know* you didn't mean it this way, Steve -- leads too many "newbies" in the wine world to think that "X" (and ***only*** "X") can/should be served with ____________ food.

                  Official wine of foie gras? Every time I've had foie gras with the *producer* of said foie gras, they have opened Côtes de Gascogne Blanc . . . bone-dry, tart, high acid and made from Colombard, Ugni Blanc, and Gros Manseng. And it works! Now, if I'm given a choice between a glass of Sauternes and a Côtes de Gascogne Blanc, I'm certainly opting for the Sauternes, but . . . .

                  Muscadet is often served with oysters in northern France and in Paris . . . but in the south, it's far more often Picpoul de Pinet. Then again, Chablis and oysters on the half shell together is an amazing and delicious match . . . and a very common pairing in Paris (second only to Muscadet) and in the Côte d'Or (where one struggles to find a decent bottle of Muscadet).

                  Bob's point about risotto is well taken: would YOU serve the exact same wine if one risotto contained seafood, tomato and saffron, and another was made with gorgonzola and porcinis? I wouldn't. And while risotto can certainly be (and IS) made anywhere in the world, I wonder how many people think of risotto as a Provençal dish, as opposed to in Milan, where it dates back to 1574, and Lombary, where it dates back 100 years earlier . . . and BECAUSE it's made everywhere, no one bats an eye if one serves Cassis with a risotto, or a California Chardonnay, or an Austrian Gruner Veltliner or a Cru de Beaujolais, or a Nebbiolo, or a Zinfandel, or . . . or . . . or . . . .

                  As far as Silvaner and mussels are concerned, it is NOT a combination I look forward to. But that's MY taste, and certainly why many posts containing suggestion for wine pairings end with "YMMV." ;^)


                  1. re: SteveTimko

                    Fair point, but these are one to one flavor matches, againast basically raw foods--and why not an Albarino or Entre deux Mers or Chablis or Txakoli as a match for oysters? Or a Salento Rosato or Verdicchio or Pigato for mussels? But again: there is no one dish called risotto; except for rice as the constant, the variations are so wide to make it impossible to recommend any one wine as "official" . Im a fan of minerally whites like Simone, but might well prefer it with a bourride and a grilled fish. At half the price, that is.

              2. What's been your best pairing experience so far and please describe?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Chinon00

                  Roquefort & a Sauternes, but I cannot remember for the life of me who the producer or what year it was... Explosion of flavours though. But thats a bit of a cop-out i guess.

                  Best that I paired myself would have been a Marc Bredif '08 Vouvray with a simple chicken breast and fruit salsa.

                  1. re: Hugery

                    I'm trying to get an understanding of where you are with pairing. Like appreciating wine itself I've found that appreciating pairing takes time. We don't turn a switch and appreciate great wine and the same is true for pairing. HOW did the vouvray w/ chicken breast and fruit salad work for you? HOW have others failed?

                2. <My girlfriend's signature dish, which I love, is a Gorgonzola & Porcini Mushroom Risotto. What would be the perfect wine? I tried this with a Cab Sauv & that seemed to work quite nicely, but it was a little overpowering... Maybe a Sangiovese?>

                  I'd say your instincts are right on, Hugery. I think a Chianti Classico Riserva would be a great pairing with that Risotto. And I'm not sure why Steve Timko is trying to put a Provencal white with it. Chateau Simone is a delicious wine, but I can't imagine it with Gorgonzola and Porcini anything. Maybe it's just my taste buds???