Tag Archives: Wine

Pairing Wine with Meals

It’s only Monday and I’m already dreading the rest of my week.  While my day wasn’t completely unbearable I know I have a ton of schoolwork to be completed this week and that’s what’s riding on my shoulders.

As soon as I walked in the door I grabbed a bottle of Celebration Spice from Ferrante Winery and poured myself a hefty glass.  It was much needed.  As I sipped this delicious concoction of grapes and spices my stomach rumbled, reminding me that I didn’t eat a substantial meal yet today.

That’s when it hit me.  I’ll write about pairing wine with food.

Red vs. White

I’ve always been told to drink red wines with red meats and white wines with white meats and fish.

For example, drink Merlot with a juicy steak and Chardonnay with chicken or fish.

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I haven’t always agreed with this train of thought.  What if you don’t like merlot?  Or red wines in general?  My dad can’t even drink red wines because his stomach gets upset.  And the same goes for people that aren’t big white wine fans.

I’ll preface this by saying: DRINK WHAT YOU LIKE AND LIKE WHAT YOU DRINK.  There’s no judicial force out there that’s going to issue you a ticket for pairing a white wine with a red meat.  The whole point to pairing wine with food is for the flavors to compliment each other.

Heck, for an appetizer a few weeks ago I had a glass of Ice Wine with calamari.  That’s just the way I roll.  Dessert wine and seafood.

In the Beginning

There’s this clever chart for those of you that don’t even know where to begin pairing wine with food.  The chart allows you to pick your food base (beef, chicken, fish, veggies, etc.) and then gives you suggestions for which wines pair nicely with it.  It’s all about preference if you ask me.  But wine connoisseurs from across the globe would probably disagree.

Chefs and winemakers at Geyser Peak Winery in California say to start with a wine you know you like.  Why?  According to an article on gourmetsleuth.com, it’s easier to adjust a food recipe to be more compatible with a wine than to start blending your wine.

“Pick a wine you know and love already. This way, you’ll have a sense of its flavors already, which you can use as a starting point to experiment with food pairings. Plus, if the recipe doesn’t work, at the very least you’ll be able to enjoy a nice bottle of wine!”

Preparation is Key

Pay attention to the way you’re meal is prepared.  Is it grilled?  Braised?  Baked?  Broiled?  What kind of sauce is it in?  What

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Photo courtesy of Google Images

are the dominant flavors?

  • Meals high in acid pair nicely with high acid wines.
    • Chianti with pasta and marinara.
  • Meals with a cream or butter base need a wine that will break through the richness of the sauce.
    • Sauvignon Blanc with fettuccini alfredo.
  • Big, flavorful meals should be paired with big, flavorful wines.
  • Mild meals should be paired with mild wines.
  • Spicy cuisine (Asian or Indian) pair well with Riesling.
  • If the food is braised in a red wine, like beef bourguignon in a Burgundy wine, then a glass of Burgundy wine pairs nicely.
    • Drink the wine the meal is cooked in.

Ray Isle on Food & Wine warns some wines simply don’t mix well with certain foods because of chemical compounds.

“Some foods contain chemical compounds that clash with wine. For instance, artichokes contain the compound cynarin, which tricks people’s taste buds into perceiving flavors that aren’t really present. For most people, cynarin creates sweetness where there isn’t any, meaning that a tart, fresh wine like a Sancerre will taste strangely, unpleasantly sweet.”

In my adventures so far this semester most wineries I’ve visited have recommended a specific wine with a specific meal.  I figure the chefs and winemakers probably know best.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with pairing.  It only sounds like rocket science.  It’s actually an opportunity to let your creative juices flow.


A Very Ferrante Valentine’s Day

Ferrante Winery, Ohio Booze Blog, Ohio WineryI decided to kill two birds with one stone and celebrate Valentine’s Day with Pat, my boyfriend, at Ferrante Winery and Ristorante in Harpersfield, Ohio on Sunday.  We try not to make a big deal out of this holiday but it just happened to work out this way.  And Pat was feeling the whole wine thing because he just watched Sideways.

The History

The Ferrante family has been making wine since 1937.  The winery originated in Collinwood, Ohio and moved to Harpersfield in 1979.  Ten years later the restaurant opened to showcase the award-winning wines and construct the classic food and wine experience.  Ferrante is one of the largest vineyards in Ohio and hosts events and live music all year.

The Ambience

We were greeted by a very friendly hostess and escorted to our table in the main dining room.  The restaurant was bustling with couples and families enjoying the musical sounds of Joey Vanilli.  Vanilli was nestled in the upper portion of the restaurant; the high ceilings helped his soulful jams radiate throughout the building.

The main dining room was lined with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the 65-acres of vineyards.  The natural light illuminated the dining room, accenting the rustic Italian decorations.

The Experience

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Ferrante Winery's Vidal Blanc Ice Wine

Pat and I started our dinner with a glass each of Ice Wine.  Pat had the Vidal Blanc Ice Wine and I had the Cabernet Franc Ice Wine.  Of course we shared.

The Vidal Blanc Ice Wine is white, creamy, tastes like honey and is $8 for a 4-oz glass. The Cabernet Franc Ice Wine is red, velvety, tastes like berries and is $10 for a 4-oz glass.  Pricey?  Yes.  Worth it?  Definitely.

Readers beware: a 375-mL bottle (about 1.5 cups) of Ferrante’s Ice Wine is between $29 and $35.  The price is pretty standard for a bottle of Ice Wine from the Grand River Valley region of Northeast Ohio.  The 8th Annual Ice Wine Festival is just around the corner, so stay tuned for more information about Ice Wines.

We splurged for dinner, conforming to the celebration of Valentine’s Day.  I had the Vitello alla

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Vitello alla Carciofo Limone

Carciofo Limone, which is a really fancy way to say veal with artichoke hearts, proscuitto, mushrooms and capers in a white wine lemon butter glaze and served with pasta and a salad. It was $19, as veal is normally a little more expensive.

Pat isn’t too adventurous when it comes to food, so he stuck with a pizza.  Both were very delicious.

We decided to try two more wines with dinner and that’s when things got interesting.  I ordered a glass of White Catawba and Pat ordered a glass of Bianco, a white wine I have never heard of or tasted before.  The waitress described it as “a very grapey smell and distinct taste.”

I found out on Sunday that very grapey means it smells like asphalt.  Are you familiar with the smell of freshly paved roads?  That is what this wine smelled like.   The woman working in the wine tasting room warned us not to smell it and just drink it.  We should have listened to her.  It did taste delicious though.

We decided to try every wine on the menu to prolong our Valentine’s Day dinner. We started with the dry to medium dry and proceeded to medium sweet to sweet wines.

Dry to Medium Dry:

  • Reserve Chardonnay
  • Signature Series Chardonnay
  • Signature Series Pinot Grigio
  • Golden Bunches Dry Riesling
  • Signature Series Gewurtztraminer
  • Vino Della Casa White
  • Reserved Red
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Noir
  • Vino Della Casa Red

Medium Sweet to Sweet

  • American Riesling
  • Grand River Valley Riesling
  • Vidal Blanc
  • Bianco
  • Rosato
  • Jester’s Blush
  • Pink Catawba
  • Rosso
  • Celebration Spice

The Lesson

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Ferrante Winery's Celebration Spice

Of all these wines we tried the Celebration Spice was my favorite.  It tasted sweet and full of flavor…like pumpkin pie!  It was an explosion of flavors in my mouth.  I understand why it’s the last wine to taste on the sweet wine sample tray. I loved it so much I bought three bottles of it for $8 each.  I have dubbed it the Christmas Ale of wines.

None of the other wines really stuck out to me too much.  I know everyone has a different palette and prefers different tastes but I just don’t like dry wine.  Especially Riesling.  Maybe that will change one day.  Until then, I’ll stick with my sweets.