Finding the right wine and food pairing can be a magical culinary experience. We are committed to helping you discover delicious dishes to go with our wines through our Vermentino: A Food and Wine Pairing Experience being held on June 23, as well as through this blog. This month, we’re delighted to have a guest blogger Certified Sommelier, and author of Falvo's Flights, Heather Falvo, share her expertise.
By Heather Falvo
It’s summer in Texas, and the best way to spend a hot day is with a bottle of chilled white wine and your favorite food. Pedernales Cellars makes some of my favorite Texas whites, and Falvo’s Flights will pair them with delicious dishes for you to enjoy.
One of my favorite things about the world of wine is pairings, since I love to drink wine and eat! Pairings are important … no one wants to have a great bottle of wine poured with a wonderful dish only to find that the two are a terrible match. A poor pairing can alter the flavors of the wine or the dish so much that you won’t want another sip or bite!
Luckily, there are a few easy guidelines to help you pair your bottle with your meal. Today we’ll focus specifically on pairings with white wines for summer.
Wine Pairings Basics:
Match the body of your dish with the body of the wine. Pair delicate white wines with foods of mild flavors and textures and full-bodied whites with richer dishes. A delicate French Sauvignon Blanc with Sole Meuniere (sole in a lemon butter sauce) is a good match for the body of the wine and fish while complementing the citrus notes in the sauce. Conversely, an oaked, full bodied Napa Chardonnay will better pair with roasted chicken or garlic shrimp with a heavy cream sauce.
Pair wines of the world with foods that are grown and produced in the same region. “What grows together goes together,” is a good rule of thumb. If you were in the Loire Valley, you’d enjoy your Sancerre with a goat cheese produced in the region. Visiting Rias Baixas in Spain? A glass of Albariño with a platter of mixed seafood and shellfish from the neighboring Atlantic Ocean would complete your afternoon.
Acidity in wine can be a nice match to the saltiness in food. Caviar and Champagne have long been heralded as a classic pairing. The salty roe and the soaring acidity of the Champagne are beautiful together. If you don’t want to spend big bucks on bubbles and caviar, try a value priced Champagne with some gourmet salty popcorn.
Sweet wines can also pair perfectly with salty foods. A sweet Sauternes wine with a salty Bleu Cheese is an extreme example, but a more subtle demonstration would be a sweet Riesling paired with an Asian ginger chicken with soy sauce.
Now, what are we going to pair our Pedernales wines with? I decided to go with rule #2 and try a dish representative of the area from each grape’s ancestral home. But these grapes are from Texas, and we all know that Texans love tacos! So, I paired each of these lovely Pedernales wines with a both a dish from where the grape originated and a classic Austin taco.
Pedernales Texas High Plains Vermentino 2017
Vermentino is a grape of Mediterranean origin with the most well-known wines hailing from the Island of Sardinia and the Italian coastal area of Liguria. Vermentino is light in body with flavors of citrus, minerality and a slightly bitter almond finish. Pedernales Vermentino displays notes of flint, stone, yellow flowers, ripe green apples and citrus. It has a bit of a richer mouthfeel than some of the Italian Vermentinos, perhaps because a small percentage of this wine was aged in barrel.
Taco pairing: The shredded chicken taco on a corn tortilla topped with onion and cilantro from Lazarus Brewing is a perfect pair. Squeeze a little lime over it and you’re golden. The hint of citrus from the lime is a perfect complement to the acid and citrus flavors in the wine. Pro tip: avoid spicy salsa with this paring since the spice amps up the acid in the wine a bit too much.
Pairing of Place: Liguria is known for pesto Genovese, a sauce made from basil, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan. The creamy, silky sauce on linguine was divine with the acidity of the Vermentino and the rich mouthfeel of this particular wine.
Pedernales Texas Albariño 2016
Albariño is a grape native to Rias Baixas, in the northeast corner of Spain, on the Atlantic coast. It is light to medium in body and is known for its citrus flavors, stone fruit and a touch of saltiness, thought to be due to its proximity to the sea. It is relatively high in acidity and pairs beautifully with seafood. Pedernales delivers a beautiful wine with notes of nectarine, Meyer lemon and a bit of well-integrated oak notes.
Taco Pairing: Veracruz All Natural has award-winning tacos at locations all over Austin. I chose their fish taco, made with meaty white fish topped with chunks of mango, avocado, tomato and slaw served with a side of chipotle mayo. This taco was a perfect weight match for the wine, and the mango brought out the fruit notes.
Pairing of Place: A simple ceviche, made with white fish, lime juice, olive oil, salt and sliced Serrano peppers tasted absolutely delicious with this wine. The heat of the peppers was not too hot for the wine to handle, and the whole experience transported me back to a lovely seaside café in Spain where I enjoyed a mid-afternoon seafood snack with white wine.
Pedernales Cellars Texas High Plains Reserve Viognier 2017
Viognier is possibly one of my favorite white grapes. The best-known wines hail from the Northern Rhone Valley in southern France. The grape is delightfully floral with scents of honeysuckle and flavors of peach and citrus. It is medium to full bodied with lower acidity. Pedernales produces a gorgeous example that I have long been in love with. It has a full, creamy body, with mango, orange, peach, and flowers on the nose and palate.
Taco Pairing: I chose the Al Pastor (marinated pork with pineapple served with onion and cilantro) taco from Pueblo Viejo. This meaty taco was a perfect weight match for the wine since it stood up to the body of the wine, and the flirty pineapple notes complemented the fruit of the wine.
Pairing of place: If I found myself in southern France, I’d order a Niçoise salad for lunch. Greens, haricot verts, baby potatoes, Niçoise olives, boiled egg, marinated Spanish tuna and a shallot vinaigrette make for a healthy, hearty meal. The full-bodied Viognier was a lovely pair for the tuna, egg and potato in this dish. Given the lower acidity, the wine was not overpowered by the vinaigrette.
Cheers and happy pairings!