Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sometimes It Just Happens

Finding a perfect match of wine with food is an elusive thing.  Oh, I’m not talking about finding a wine that "goes well" with food, or vice versa.  With a little bit of training and some practice, that’s actually not that hard.

I think of wine and food matches as following a negatively skewed curve:
Bad Matches                      Good Matches

It’s possible to come up with a bad match but that’s a rarity unless you’re just not paying attention.  Most wine and food matches are good ones.  Not great but good.

But what really turns on sommeliers is finding that perfect match, a match that's at the extreme right end of that curve.  What’s a perfect match?  A local restaurateur and wine educator, Antonio Mauriello of DiVino Wine Studio, says, “The food should make you want to drink more of the wine and the wine should make you want to eat more of the food.”

Many things have to come together to find a great match.  The food has to be well prepared.  The wine has to show its best features.  Most times, I can't create a great match...when it happens, it just happens.

Last Friday morning, Michèle found some freshly caught wild pickerel at a local store.  On impulse, she bought it and found a recipe for broiled pickerel with an orange-butter sauce.

But what wine would work?  Pickerel is a medium-bodied fish.  With that kind of fish and the orange-butter sauce, I started thinking of a wine that would be medium- to full-bodied to complement the texture of the fish and the butter but with citrus aromas and flavours to complement the orange.

The choice:  GRGICH HILLS FUMÉ BLANC 2009 from Napa Valley.  14.3% ABV.  100% Biodynamic Sauvignon Blanc. What turns Sauvignon Blanc into Fumé Blanc? Oak! Fermented in 900-US-gallon oak casks (80%) and neutral (used 3+ times) French Oak barrels (20%). Aged for 6 months on its lees in neutral barrels.  

In the glass, it starts with aromas of lemon, grapefruit, orange peel, white peach, and just a hint of grassy herbaceousness and almonds.  Citrus flavours dominate on the taste with a backing note of ginger.  The intensity level of the wine's flavours match up perfectly with the orange-butter sauce.  The flavours on the finish have good length with the acidity more evident at the end, cleansing the palate.  Not a classic Sauvignon Blanc of the Loire or New Zealand schools but I don’t expect that from Fumé Blanc.  What makes it perfect is this wine's surprisingly full body.  It fits perfectly with the firm, robust texture of the fish.  And the wine goes wonderfully with the ginger basmati rice.


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1 comment:

  1. Yum. I love pickerel and never buy it. You've inspired me.