Wine suggestions for this meal
We're having a dinner party (6 people, but only 4 will have wine) on Saturday, and neither of us are all that great at wine pairing. I would appreciate knowing what types of wine to serve. Here's our menu, with comments just below it:
-- Parmesan-rosemary toasted almonds
-- "Nyons Olive Cake" (a small, savory quickbread loaf) served w/Herbes de Provence Chevre
-- Whole roasted chicken w/shallot & white wine pan sauce
-- A savory bread pudding (made w/ Parmigiano, Emmenthaler and Mascarpone, wild mushrooms, and black truffles) baked and served in a whole pumpkin
-- Grilled leeks brushed w/a light, simple Dijon vinaigrette
Tarte Tatin with whipped creme fraiche
My husband and I are not fans of Chardonnay: we tend to like white wines that are on the sweeter side (especially me), such as Reisling. However, the author of the bread pudding recipe recommends "a cool, flinty dry white wine." Problem is, I don't necessarily know what wine would fit that description! (But I know it's not usually Reisling. Should we serve Sauvignon Blanc? Pinot Gris? ...?) Also, we do want to have a red (and maybe even a blush) available, too. What red goes with chicken? BTW, the truffle flavor in the bread pudding is fairly subtle, in case that makes a difference.
We usually select wines that are approximately under $25 or so.
We're not asking because we're concerned about propriety ("white w/chicken, red w/ beef" etc); we just want to enhance the food with the best wine choice that we can manage.
Thanks very much.
I'm going to suggest something more off the wall for new wine drinkers and suggest a white Cotes du Rhone, an Albarino from Spain, or a Gavi from Italy. You could just as easily go with a Sauvignon Blanc but I find those kind of boring.
As to a red wine, roast chicken goes really well with a Right Bank Bordeaux or a Cotes du Rhone. For Cotes du Rhones, red or white, M. Chapoutier is a good bet for an affordable and very drinkable one.
Don't be intimidated by Bordeaux, there is a sea of very drinkable, easily affordable Bordeaux out there. Look for something from Puisseguin St.-Emilion instead of looking at the more classic appellations. I really like the 2010 Chateau des Laurets that is very drinkable right now and within your price range. They made a lot of it so you might be able to find it.
With the almonds and cake, I'd give serious thought to serving something like an aged White Porto -- from Churchill's, Niepoort, or Barros. (Avoid Fonseca's, and several others -- too dry.)
For the white, the CdR Blanc is an inspired choice with the chicken. I'd do that, *or* something like an Alsatian Riesling or Pinot Gris (***not*** an Italian Pinot Grigio!). For a red, I'd opt for a Cru de Beaujolais -- like a Fleurie or Juliénas -- or a top-notch Beaujolais-Villages.
Hmmm... interesting and somewhat challenging menu. Not sure how many wines you want to serve...
Parm-rosemary almonds: Moscato d'Asti prolly my fave, followed by chardonnay
Nyons Olive Cake w/ herbed chevre: I'm feeling chardonnay most for this....
For both of the above you could do a 100% chardonnay champagne, very nice...
Chicken: Chardonnay or riesling in whites are my faves. If you want a red, go pinot.
Savory bread pudding. This is a wine challenge due to the clash between matches for parmesan and emmethal. Riesling and gewurztraminer really hit the emmeal, but neither matches Parmesan. Richer reds are mostly right for parmesan (cab, zin, syrah, rioja, nebbiolo), but none of them match emmental.... Mushroom & truffle elements I really like nebbiolo there... Pumpkin is kind of an outlier, not to mention mascarpone... this dish is really busy and I don't think any particular wine is going to match up great with it.
Grilled leeks are very wine-versatile, but a chardonnay or other dry white is probably best, kabinett riesling also nice...
SOOOOO... Overall for the Mains I would try to match the chicken and leeks and there Chardonnay and/or riesling are the standout matches IMO, though neither is particularly interesting with the bread pudding as currently composed....
DESSERT: Considering an awesome match for both the apple and caramel notes, hands down I like Sauternes or a dessert Muscat here (or the D'Asti for that matter).
So, to pick 3 wines, overall I might go a 100% chardonnay champagne with the apps, kabinett riesling with the mains (you could bring the champage forward for the mains too), and sauternes for the dessert.
Please report back.
I would choose a sparkling wint for the appys. Don't know what your budget is, but if you don't want to spend the $$ on Champagne, a Cremant would be lovely. Although I enjoy cavas a lot, I hesitate to suggest them because there are a couple of AWFUL ones that are almost ubiquitous. So I'd stick with French... or Gruet from New Mexico.
For the roast chicken, I also like Right Bank Bordeaux, but somehow that doesn't sound good with the sides you've planned. I'd prefer a Bourgogne Rouge. (No, not pinot noir from US). Again the level of wine can fit your budget. Roast chicken is often what I choose to serve when I want to feature a special wine.
For dessert: omigosh, the last time I served Tarte Tatin I poured the ethereally lovely "Deborah" from Justin Winery in Paso Robles. It's hard to find outside of the area, but it was just perfect.
Gruner Veltliner was my first idea for the first course also. Then I re-read pindert's preference for sweetness, and thought s/he might not enjoy wines that are "cool, flinty dry," and so I thought some other ideas work a bit better.
I'd love to see pindert try wines that have beautiful and expressive fruit, so that the wine tastes sweet but isn't sweet per se. So, for the first course, Gavi (the cortese grape) would work, and possibly even a sherry with a touch of sweetness. I would consult with a good wine store and knowledgeable clerk on this. Explain the sweetness issue. Other possibilities: Friulano, Erbaluce, Arneis, Pinot Gris from Oregon/Washington.
For the main course, I'd a white wine with a bit more intensity to match the intensity of the flavors of the food seems in order. I love the idea of a Roussanne or Marsanne (or a blend of the two) with this. I love the Copain (James Berry Vineyard) and Qupe and Zaca Mesa for this.
Another wonderful possibility is a good white Bordeaux like the Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc, one of my favorites, and not too pricey.The grapes in white Bordeaux are not chardonnay, since you've said you don't care for it, but Semillion and Sauvignon Blanc. Semillion is a grape with a good deal of richness and smoothness; you might like it.
By the way, you could keep the white wine from the first course on the table for the second course, just to see how well it went with the food also. Do you know the trick of taking a bite of food and enjoying it, and while you still have the food in our mouth, adding a sip of wine to see how they meld? That's the real key to evaluating a pairing.
I'd serve both red and white with the chicken, but not a heavy red. Something like a Beaujolais Villages, a Pinot Noir from Oregon, a Grenache/Cinsault blend, a Ribero del Duero, something like that. Once again, work with your wine store clerk. And find out if your guests even drink wine.
Tarte Tatin always says Sauternes to me, but other possibilities are the Navarro Late Harvest Cluster Select (both Riesling and Gewurtztraminer), Dolce, Topaz, even Picolit from Italy. Find a nice half-bottle that's ready to drink (not too young -- you want those honeyed exotic/apricot fruit flavors), and pour very small pours, about 3 ounces each for the four wine drinkers. A little goes a long way. You can, of course, also buy a full-sized bottle (750 ml) and pour slightly more in the glass and enjoy the remainder in the next few days after your party.
BTW, I love your menu choices. Looks to be a wonderful meal.
re: maria lorraine
Maria, I take it you haven't bought Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc in recent vintages. The 2009 & 2010 were $100. The 2011 might be out but has to be about $90. They cranked their price up after 2003. The 2003 might be around at $60 but it's kind of flabby. Unfortunately Pape Clement Blanc has cranked up the pricing even worse.
re: john gonzales
re: maria lorraine
I think your original suggestion of a white bourdeaux was an excellent one. Smith Haut Lafitte is very pricey, but its still possible to find a very good Bourdeax Blanc for under $30. I'd recommend Clos Floridene which I've purchased in the $20-25 from K&L in the past. One thing I like about the idea of a Bourdeaux Blanc is that I'm assuming that the pan sauce will be made with a Sauvignan Blanc. Serving a more elegant version of the wine you are cooking with just makes sense to me.
The wine nerd in me would want to pair the main course with a Savignan from the Jura region. I think it could be a pairing that would really work with both the chicken and the bread pudding and has the potential for being a really revelatory wine. That said, it would be a risky choice which some might just find strange and off-putting. A white bordeaux is probably the best choice.
re: maria lorraine
Maria, as much as I respect your expertise, and as much as I like Roussanne/Marsanne whites (there's a good one here for just $13 that I serve with paella), I just would not put one alongside roast chicken which IMO is not intensely flavored. To me these are full-flavored whites like Chardonnay.
For the same reason I would not choose an Oregon Pinot or a Ribero del Duero, also favorites of mine.
Bear in mind, I'm pairing to the intensity of the course in total, which includes a savory bread pudding with Parmigiano, Emmenthaler and Mascarpone, wild mushrooms, and black truffles, baked and served in a whole pumpkin, and leeks,as well as roast chicken.
The bread pudding kicks up the intensity quite a bit, which is why I feel Roussanne or Marsanne (particularly) works well.
I have Roussanne and roast chicken together frequently and love the flavor combination. Though they've been Roussanne and Marsanne from California.
Beaujolais Villages, Ribero and (non-reserve) Oregon Pinot Noir are red wine suggestions. All are in a lighter weight to pair with chicken, parm, wild mushrooms, truffles and pumpkin. I've found the Oregon non-reserve Pinots to be a good deal lighter in weight than the reserves, and that's the reason for the suggestion. To me, both the flavor combo and the wine's mid-range pair extremely well. Though I'd probably go with a Beaujolais Villages. But Pindert is in Washington State, and Oregon is next door, so...
re: maria lorraine
Thank you. I respect your opinion.
Maybe we come from two different schools and yours is more prevalent, preferring more intense wines. Chez-moi I don't let the wine be the sauce very often.
Here you match to the bread pudding, and I match primarily to the chicken with an adjustment for the bread pudding.
Again, I'm matching wine to the entire course.
My primary rec is for a rich opulent white to match both the chicken and bread pudding together. (By "rich," I do not mean malolactic or oily.)
The intensity of the white wine is important to be able to pair with the parm, wild mushrooms and truffles.
The course tips to white wine over red, IMO, especially with the addition of leeks. But Pindert wishes to include a red also for that course, hence my recs for lighter reds but ones with enough substance to take on parm, wild mushrooms and truffles.
The entire meal sounds absolutely delicious to me, and full of wonderful fall flavors that I love and enjoy frequently.
Pairing suggestions are all well and good, but IMO your own wine prefrences are going to be a large factor in whether a pairing really works. If you don't like chard, it might be enhaced some by the dish, but often it doesn't make one like a wine they might not otherwise be fond of. So I'd consider what you've described as your own preference.
With the apps I'd either go with a champagne/sparkling as it addsa social element. Or I might look at chenin or sauv blanc. Those would do well with the chevre, and you could find something with a slightly fruity character.
i don't know if you like Bordeaux, but even though I do I don't like young Bordeaux with chicken. It's too brutish and tannic, as opposed to aged versions. If you did look for Bord, look perhaps for St. Emilion. Personally I'd have pinot with that course. It goes well with the chicken and generally with the mushroom flavor in the bread pudding. I would actually reccomend a new world pinot if you truly like some "fruitiness" or perceived sweetness in your red. Burgundy typically won't give you that, if you care, but would otherwise be great. Alternatively I'd go with a Cote du Rhone, other grenache-based (maybe Spanish), or cru Beaujoulais. I certainly think these lighter reds are just as good a match as white.
If you looked non-chard white, perhaps pinot gris (French or Oregonian).
For that dessert pairing should be easy as a lot of things would work. Coteaux du Layon (or other Loire), German Auslese, something like a Kracher Beerenauslese, or Sauterne.
re: john gonzales
I agree that pairing suggestions may be helpful or unhelpful, since everyone's palate is somewhat unique. However, I wanted some advice because I believe that my preference for sweetness in my wines is not often shared by others. It's been my impression that a majority of wines that people rave about -- when I taste them -- don't taste very good to me. So, I didn't want to force my love for sweet wines onto my guests. The other couple who will be there (the ones who do drink wine) are members of a wine club, so I assume they are more "sophisticated" in their appreciation of wine than I am. That's why I felt I needed some recommendations. I appreciate yours and everyone else's. (Hope that explanation made sense.) :-)
I make roast chicken all the time, and I only do lighter reds with it - Juliénas Capitans or an unoaked local CdRV.
Add in the bread pudding, wild mushrooms and truffles and I'm trading up to Morgon Descombes or a Gigondas. Unless you're trading up to a fuller-flavored bird (e.g.,capon), I'm not in favor of a bigger red.
Thanks to all the great advice, everyone!
Turns out, our guests did not want wine with the appetizers. After all that! (sigh!). I had bought a Gavi and a Gruner, but they're still unopened.
For dinner, the other couple asked for red, so I gave them an Oregon non-reserve Pinot Noir made by Solena. I had a small taste of it and did not like it at all. When we were cleaning up after everyone left, my husband tasted it and hated it. He dumped out the remaining wine that was still in the bottle! However, my husband and I both chose to have white with our main course, and we both liked it very much. It was a 2012 Laudun Cotes-du-Rhone Villages by Pierre Henri Morel. I also purchased a Beaujolais and a white (I can't remember now what it is), but we didn't open them.
No one wanted wine with dessert, so the Sauternes is also unopened.
I guess I overestimated how into wine our friends are. Oh well, now we have a good stash for next time.
Thank you again.
I can't imagine it's a total loss. You can always enjoy the wines on your own. And the holidays are almost here. You're sure to have more company who will appreciate those wines.
As for the Solena, you could have gotten a bad bottle. Sadly, most wine shops don't store their stock in temperature controlled conditions, so it's often a crapshoot.
I never thought of that. The Wine Guy who helped me raved about the Solena. I mean he really got excited! So, perhaps that's what went wrong. Then again, it could just be my husband's and my palates. To some extent, wines are always a crap shoot because personal tastes vary so widely.
Be sure to go back and tell him THAT you didn't like it, and WHAT (if you can) you didn't like. He can help you better in the future, and perhaps he may figure the wine was off (in which case, some folks would comp you, and others wouldn't - but that's not the main reason for telling him). Through conversations of this type he can learn your likes and dislikess.