Friday, July 11, 2008

Food & Wine Matchmaking - Lesson 1

Apple Pie:Vanilla Ice Cream. Hot Pizza:Cold Beer.

Classic pairings. Each is wonderful on its own, combined they are spectacular. Today were going to have our first in-depth food-wine match-up.

A few weeks ago I sent Wine Wizard Bob a list of wine varietals and asked him to pair them up with the perfect food. Over the coming months I'll be preparing a meal designed to highlight the combination of a specific food with a specific type of wine. I'll share the recipe and my wine tasting notes with all of you. Feel free to recreate the experience on your own.

However, before we go on, there is one unbreakable Crabby rule when it comes to wine tasting: We will talk like humans. The first person to describe a wine along the lines of, "sprightly, with the petulant insouciance of Hemingway in Cuernavaca", will be banished from Crab Nation for life. Your membership will be revoked and you will be sent to live with those shiftless lobsters down the reef. Understand? Good!

Now on to the tasting. First on WWBob's list was Sauvignon Blanc, which ends up being a two-parter. What's great about part one is there's no cooking, only buying cheeses. Perfect for a hot summer night when all you want is a cool drink and a little something. Let's hear from WWBob:

"Classic wine and food pairings are all about simple ingredients, perfectly prepared. One of these tasty "togethers" is Goat Cheese and Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley of France. Not surprisingly, the best goat cheese comes from the Loire as well. The best town for goat cheese is Chavignol, its Crotin du Chavignol is the apex of goat cheese.

The twin towns of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume, (not to be confused with Pouilly-Fuisse!), make the best Sauvignon Blanc. Chavignol is adjacent to Sancerre. The soil for both the cheese and the grapes is a composite of clay and limestone. This soil combo creates a wine with a zippy light lime flavor and hints of fruit in a dry crisp white. It doesn't get easier than that and it makes just so much sense."


So I went down to my local market and picked up 2 bottles of wine, a Domaine Daulny, Sancerre, and a bottle of Les Pentes, Poilly-Fume (both around $17). I also got three pieces of goat cheese: an aged (2 weeks) cheese from a local creamery, a French Chabichou du Poitou and an unfortunately named Bucheron Goat Log. Both the wines and the cheeses were opened one hour before the tasting began.

First the wines.
Sancerre: Yellow-Green color, tart-sweet flavor of lemon, lime and (faintly) orange, smell of freshly cut grass.
Pouilly-Fume: Yellow-Green color, citrus fruit flavor but not as tart/sharp, earthy-mineral taste. Same fresh cut grass smell.

The cheeses.
Bucheron: Tangy, creamy with a faint musty smell no real taste beyond the tartness.
Lincoln Log: completely forgettable, bland, no zip, no taste, no nothing.
Chabichou: Smooth, peanut butter like texture, strong musty smell, just a bit of tart sensation.

Together. In every case the Sancerre got a more pronounced citrus flavor. It also got "flatter" with the fizziness disappearing. The cheeses made the Sancerre taste more like lemon and lime. On the othe hand, all the cheeses gave the Pouilly-Fume an almost metallic taste, (not as bad as it sounds). Any taste of fruit disappeared and was replaced by the saltiness you get from salami.

To me the cheeses made the Sancerre taste better whereas the Pouilly-Fume made the cheeses taste better. Even with all that talk about metallic tastes, in the end I wanted another glass of the Pouilly-Fume. The Sancerre just seemed too sweet unless you had the tart offset of a piece of cheese.

Well crablings, that's it for now. Some time next week we're going to visit Sauvignon Blanc again, but this time we'll be getting it from New Zealand and we'll be having swordfish.

Until next time, you can do it, you can cook.


hungryandfrozen said...

Sounds like a fun time! And I love your mock wine description. I've read some doozies in my time :)

Anonymous said...

And another thing....

To look like a wine pro, always hold the wine glass by the stem. As soon as anyone in the trade observes a taster holding the wine glass like a cognac glass... well you get the idea.

You hold a glass by the stem to keep the temperature of the wine constant and to more enjoy the color of the wine. Yeah, you dont taste the color, but it is nice to look at. Also, you dont get your greasy fingerprints on the glass after you smeared butter from the lobster or corn on the cob on your finger tips.

You hold a cognac glass palm up with the small stem between any two fingers of your choosing. This gets the cognac up to your bodies temp. and adds to the perfume of the brandy. Yup, cognac is plain old brandy made in the Cognac region of France.


Thinking About Food said...

Look forward to hearing what you think of the NZ sauvignons and which ones you try. I am completely addicted to (NZ) sauvignon blanc, have had a brief flirtation with Pinot Gris but keep coming back to the sauvignon! The Marlbourough ones are definitely the best examples, lovely 'green' flavours, grass, capsicum, aparagus...mmmmmmmm

thecarefreephotographer said...

hey Crabby:

Great recipe - used with halibut and my wife is raving! Says I have to saaave this one. Best to Sal.
The Carefree Photographer