Defining my “culinary moment”
A good friend who owns an important group of restaurants told me recently: “I believe everyone has his own culinary defining moments, especially when it comes to wine. Mine happened in London some ten years ago when, at the Nobu restaurant, I was having a Tuna Sashimi and the sommelier recommended an exquisite Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. The moment I tasted that wine with the sashimi I discovered why people fell in love with wine and tried to match it with food.”
There’s no doubt that wine was made to accompany food. It enhances all of its flavors and turns the human need to be fed into a delicate and enjoyable experience. Moreover, wine is also transformed by food. Have you noticed how that wedding cake tastes so delicious with Champagne? Or how the strong tannins of a big red can break so fantastically a steak fat and fiber? Inspired by my friend’s experience in London, I recently got together with a group of friends to experiment and find new “heavenly combinations”, besides the classic Chardonnay with Salmon or Rioja with Paella. The combinations we tried were fabulous and made me think of how important it is to keep experimenting with new flavors and new wines and discover our own “heavenly combinations”.
Tuna Sashimi with soy and lemon dressing
The soft acidity of the wine pairs harmoniously with the acidity of the soy and lemon. The delicacy of raw fish enhances beautifully the fresh herbal notes of the Puligny Montrachet.
Louis Jadot Puligny Montrachet 2004
Greenish in color, it has toasted and vanilla aromas with an accent of caramelized pineapple. Great body, with herbal notes and some green hay. Refreshing, round, citric notes and a very nice balance.
Some sort of sweetness in the wine goes very well with the spiciness and olives of the Picadillo. The wine enhances nicely the herbal-spicy notes of the dish. Excellent pairing!
Bodega Nieto Senetiner CADUZ Malbec, Mendoza Argentina 2002
Big and concentrated in both color and aromas. A red ripe fruit explosion. Full bodied, with black cherry notes and some background of blueberries, mint and eucalyptus. Heavy, the kind of wine you can almost literally chew, but elegant and silky at the same time. A classic Malbec.
Their sweetness and meaty flavors make a great marriage with the sweet fruitiness of the wine. Fat is graciously washed down by the strong and firm tannins. Delicious!
Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cabernet 2000
Penfolds wines are always a guarantee of quality. The great combination of Shiraz and Cabernet bring a concentrated fruitness that is unique. Red berries, chocolate notes and some mint define this excellent Australian wine.
Serrano Ham and 6-month-aged Manchego cheese
Some lactic accents of the wine make a harmonious dance with the cheese, complementing each other. There’s some clash with the Ham, but not necessarily unpleasant. It brings out some metallic and even bloody flavors.
Torremilanos Reserva 1990 Ribela del Duero
Light in color due to its young age, but intense in rich aromas: spices, smoked ham and salt. Delicious and delicate, with ripe red fruit and more smoked flavors. Very well balanced.
Smoked ham and Cheese Quiche Lorraine
Even with the fact that wine and eggs aren’t precisely friends, the ham and cheese mix very well with the sweet spiciness of the wine. Practically a piece of the French Provence.
Ballot Millot Volnay Taillepieds 1er Cru 2003
Wow! Incredibly aromatic and spicy, with rose petals and forest-like herbs. Silky and delicate, with complex flavors of ripe cherries, chocolate and cranberries. Delicious and full bodied with a long, long finish.
Spaghetti a la Bolognese
Nothing is better than the acidity of fresh tomatoes and the lactic and salty flavors of Parmesan to bring up the rich fruitiness and acidity of this super Tuscan wine. The wine adds body and richness to the sauce flavors.
Tenuta Sette Ponti CROGNOLO Toscana 2003
Concentrated and earthy from the beginning, it shows excellent fruit notes, olive oil, black pepper and clove. Full body and complex, with strong tannins and layers upon layers of red currant and cherries. Deep and sophisticated, with hints of chocolate and mocha at the end.
For this winter we recommend …
One of the great Chilean wines, along with Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor is Santa Rita Casa Real ($39), which is the top-of-the-line of Vina Santa Rita, with great fruitiness and character and deep in color and in flavor. Lancaster Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2003 is a great wine from California, with elegant vanilla, cranberry and chocolate hints. Black Currant and a medium body make this wine a must try. And also from California, a new wine from recognized Ferrari Carano winery, PREVAIL West Face 2003 from Alexander Valley ($48) adds a level of sophistication and refinement to a very well crafted and balanced wine with notes of red currants, vanilla, plums and some licorice. Truly splendid!
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COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning