Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Fabulous (and easy!) three course pairing

By Jessica Yadegaran
Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007 at 3:40 pm in Uncategorized.

My friend Chloe hosted a wonderful dinner in her Rockridge apartment last night. I was in charge of bringing the wines to match her four courses. I want to share with you what I did and pretty much show you how easy pairings can be. All you have to do is look for some similar or contrasting nuances. And if you choose smart, one wine can usually do duty on two courses.

Here’s her menu. Don’t drool.

Gruyere with rustic bread, roasted garlic, fresh figs, wild strawberries and quince preserve
Insalata Caprese with heirloom tomatoes and purple basil
Swiss chard and red onion ravioli with red pepper pasta wrappers, olive oil and sage sauce
Hazelnut chocolate mousse

So when you think garlic and fruit you pretty much think rose. The acidity will cut and stand up to the garlic and a really fruity rose will match the figs and quince nicely. I went with: La Crema Pinot Noir Rose Russian River Valley 2006 ($20). This wine is dark for a rose and is brimming with strawberry and watermelon on the finish. It was perfect and versatile. Read on.

The grassy basil, juicy yellow tomatoes and subtle nuttiness of the cheese in the insalata caprese needed a super dry white wine, even drier than a Sauvignon Blanc. Is there such a thing? You bet. I went with: Grgich Hills Fume Blanc 2006 ($30). I popped the cork and let the herbal notes of the wine open for a few minutes before serving it. Those who needed something with a little more depth to tackle the acidity in those tomatoes kept drinking their rose with the salad.

That gorgeous ravioli from Market Hall. I’m still thinking about it. The subtle bitterness of the chard. The sweetness of the onions. The richness of the olive oil. I knew it needed something sparkling but with enough fruit to stand up to the onions. I went with: Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Barbolini ($20). The beauty of this wine, and all three really, is that they were totally interchangeable with the three courses.

Had I had time, I would’ve grabbed a Madeira port or reserve Zinfandel to go with the mousse. But, thank goodness, it tasted just fine with the Lambrusco.

So what’s the takeaway? That pink wines and lean, dry whites go with everything? Yup, pretty much. Deal with it.

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