Real-World Wine Pairing
I’m going to use you all as guinea pigs. I want to start posting more about the connections between food and wine. It occurred to me that I have a perfect bag of material: dinner. I don’t cook every night, but even when we get take-out, we almost always have wine or beer to drink.
And since I invest a tiny amount of effort in thinking about that beverage, I thought I’d post occasional glimpses at my thought process.
First, some caveats. I believe that most wine goes with most food. I’ve had a few stellar matches; I’ve had some clunkers. But for the most part, it’s hard to go too far astray. I steer by a few guidelines, but mostly I follow my mood and work with what I have available at the house. Don’t look at these posts as absolute guides; look at them as a glimpse at my thought process. Also, I probably won’t write up every meal. You may have noticed that I’m not so much with the daily posts. But I’ll try to do these with some regularity.
The Dish: Pasta with Roasted Chestnuts and Bitter Greens
Once a year, some recipe inspires me to peel my own chestnuts. Once a year, the chestnuts reduce me to tears with their clinging flesh. This year, the agent of my despair was the recipe for salt-roasted chestnuts in Paula Wolfert’s Slow Mediterranean Cooking (a book I heartily recommend, by the way, despite some editorial lapses). I decided to put her chestnuts onto pasta and mix in wilted arugula and mache.
The Drink: 1997 Stéphane Tissot Vin Jaune, Arbois
I like oxidized wines when I have a strong nut component in a dish. Actually, as my students could tell you, I like oxidized wines with just about anything, and vin jaune is an unusual member of the species. A winery makes it by filling a barrel partway with wine and letting a native population of yeast form a mat on top of the wine. The Arbois region of France, in the Alpine foothills on the east side of the country, is one of the few places where you’ll find a yeast population that can do this: Jerez is another — fino sherries are made this way — and Tokaji is one more, though I’ve never seen a Tokaji Szamorodni here in the United States. Ed describes the flavor of vin jaune as “rancid walnuts,” which is as good a description as any for this funky wine. They age forever: Jack of Fork & Bottle recently let me taste a 1967 Chateau Chalon vin jaune, and it was still fresh and vibrant.
How’d It Work?
Because I so seldom suffer the agony of chestnuts, I forget that they’re more sweet than nutty. I expected the rich flavor of slow-roasted almonds, but I got a delicately sweet nut. The bitter greens mellowed quite a bit, and so the wine ended up overpowering the dish. A gentle, lightly sweet Riesling or Scheurebe might have been a better choice.
Labels: Real World Wine Pairing