Tuesday, July 29, 2008

One of my favorite ways to relax after a long day of running Swirl is to sit back and read New York Magazine, cover to cover (especially the Approval Matrix which is pure and simple genius). And this week's issue is one that makes me drop everything I'm doing (which includes gearing up for the new season of Project Runway by watching a day long marathon). The Cheap Eats 2008. It’s one of my dining bibles for the rest of the year. The sections on pizza, tacos, and noodles got me thinking. If I'm bringing home a regular slice from Artichoke Pizza (my pizza fave minus the 30 minute lines at 8PM; I skip the overly creamy artichoke style) what am I going to drink with it? Let's put beer and soda aside for now and go to the wine picks. I should first mention that my overall favorites for pairing any type of wine with food are crisp, high acidic whites and lower tannin, lighter bodied red wines. If you’re settling in with a thin, crispy slice with red sauce my wine pick is a Barbera d’Asti or Chianti. Pairing food and wine regionally is a good guideline. The high acidity of tomato sauce requires a wine that is its acidic equal, which Italian red wines tend to have. The light, juiciness of a Barbera matches the sweetness of a tomato sauce. Try the Carlo Giacosa Barbera D'Alba for a nice late summer treat. A Chianti such as the Ruffino Riserva Ducale is a classically deep yet rustic Tuscan wine made from Sangiovese grapes, sans the wicker basket. Noodles with all of its slurpy glory, seem to be all the rage. And like most East Asian dishes, they need something to battle the powerful flavors while being light at the same time. My pick is a dry Riesling from Alsace or Washington State. But when I think of Mexican food, I think fish tacos and nothing less. Pairing fish tacos with wine is challenging, but don’t automatically reach for that Pacifico. Try a tangy, citrusy Vinho Verde from Portugal or Albarino from Rias Baixas.


Trevor Corson said...

These suggestions are helpful, thanks. I always forget to think wine with pizza, but this is a good reminder.

nikki said...

This is great info as I'm all about tacos this summer. What other wines could you suggest that are good pairings for tacos? PS - I love pork tacos!

Ladan said...

Thanks for the shout-out to table wines and for the reminder that dinner does not always need to be paired with the rarest, most expensive wines. Feels more like you're in Italy this way, too!

Red Sweater Vest said...

Excellent suggestions, Anu! I know that living an urban lifestyle sometimes requires fast, cheap eats, but you don't necessarily have to "cheap out" on taste or wine pairings. I'm a vegetarian, and have really been into spots that serve dishes with tempeh or other soy derivatives. Any ideas on complimentary wine choices? Also, thoughts on "organic" wines?

Anu Karwa said...

Ooh, pork tacos. if Ms.Swirl Savvy was invited for dinner, I'd bring a Chateneuf du Pape, a medium bodied red from the southern Rhone Valley in France. It's powerful combination of violets, deep raspberry and spice could stand up to a heart Mexican meal.

Anu Karwa said...

I like the thought of pairing vegetarian dishes with organic wines as those schools of thought sometimes go together. My favorite organic wine is from Montinore. Their Grahma's Block 7 or Parsons' Ridge Pinot Noir is a perfectly food friendly wine. This winery follows biodynamic farming practices, kind of like organic to the extreme. Check it out.

How to Pick a Summer Wine: The Gentler, Lighter Side of Wine

Summer’s soaring temps beg you to step away from heavy Cabernets and check out the gentler, lighter side of wine. When choosing the perfect summer wine for your outdoor engagement party or wedding, think light, crisp, refreshing--and because people tend to drink more in the heat--lower in alcohol. Nothing more prettily suggests summer than a dry (i.e. not sweet) rose. Avoid the simple, syrupy versions and try French roses from the Mourvèdre grape or roses made using the Saignee method for more complexity. Pick wines from countries where you imagine the locals sipping leisurely at sidewalk cafés while basking in the sun, like Spain. A Spanish fave is Albarino from the Rias Baixas region. Made to drink young, Albarino is a crisp, white wine with intense fruit, lively acidity and generally a lower level of alcohol. It pairs perfectly with summer foods from seafood to grilled vegetables. But you don’t need to swear off red wine for summer. Look for light bodied wines like Pinot Noir from Oregon or a Valpolicella from Italy, both capable of standing up to barbequed foods. And don’t be afraid to put a slight chill on your red wine. It is summer after all!

Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain, “Exceptional with Everything” Oh Really?

There's nothing we love more than a challenge. It's in our makeup. We're two women, thirties. One Indian. One Filipina. The first, founder and CEO of a business in the arguably male-dominated wine world. The second, building experience to be a future proprietess of a wine store. Add to this: In New York City. So when presented with the opportunity to play wine and food critic for a night—to pair Rías Baixas Albariño wines, proclaimed to be "exceptional with everything" with Mercat’s offerings —it is impossible and simply against every ounce of who we are, to refuse.

Mercat means “market” in Catalan, the language of the northern Spanish region where owner, Jaime Reixach, is from and where the restaurant’s menu draws its inspiration. The albariños we’ll be drinking also originate from the northern region, and so we’re already anticipating more perfect wine pairings than tragic mismatches.

It’s a beautiful warm Thursday night—and we are tasting two Albariño wines: Alba Rosa from Martinez Serrantes and Pazo San Mauro, both 2006 vintages. We take our time with each wine—assessing them alone and then side by side. At the end, we agree that both are delightful: the Alba Rosa is sparkling with surprising depth while the Pazo San Mauro would bring life to our springtime picnic. Further, we imagine that if each wine were to be personified, they might just be these two ladies, described as such:

Alba Rosa Martinez Serantes Albariño | Scarlett Johansson: "Sparkling with surprising depth"

Alba Rosa Martinez Serantes Albariño | Scarlett Johansson: "Sparkling with surprising depth"
This golden blonde hued wine gives an almost effervescent quality that shoots racy brightness into your mouth. It has the usual grassiness and citrus qualities one expects from this wine. The reason why this wine fits Scarlett most is because it has the quality of lightness but comes with surprising depth of character and fullness in body. The comparison would be perfect were the wine to show great legs, but its light-bodied, lower alcohol nature doesn’t allow it.

Pazo San Mauro Albariño | Cameron Diaz: “Livens up your springtime picnic”

Pazo San Mauro Albariño | Cameron Diaz: “Livens up your springtime picnic”
Cameron would be a fun addition to any springtime outing. Her lightheartedness would make everyone smile and this wine does the same. The light yellow straw color gives way to granny smith apples, peaches, melon, and citrus scents that jump at your nose, smelling like springtime in a glass. This wine begs to be explored further. The crisp and pleasantly tart apple is balanced with pear and makes it the perfect brunch wine.
Now, we move on to the heart of our challenge: Exceptional with everything? Oh really? How do these two beauties handle themselves in company? After the three and a half hours of glorious sipping, chewing, and chatting, among ourselves and the restaurant staff, here are our findings:

No surprise, our lovely wines get along splendidly with their classic and traditional partners: we have raves for the nicely seasoned patatas bravas—not too spicy, not too garlicky—and the padrones/blistered shishito peppers, the char and oil offset by the tartness of the wines. One of us goes wild for the Canelons de Verdura/eggplant wrapped spring vegetables, manchego, and cranberry reduction. And then Chef Lowder sends over Trencat d’Ous/mushroom with salsa verde topped with a fried egg, which again, goes splendidly with our wines. Even the suckling pig/Cochinillo, which we think will surely clash, in fact becomes the surprise of the evening. Like the beauty and the beast, our wines and the pig make an unlikely but harmonious pair.

We ask ourselves for the last time: Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain: Exceptional with Everything?

If not for being the gluttonous bottomless pits that we are, we would certainly have answered YES with an exclamation point. But since we order those two desserts—Torrades Sta. Teresa/fried bread with lemon yogurt and Pa Amb Oli Xocolata/bread, olive oil, and chocolate, our answer must be: Almost. These two desserts with our two Albariños — are disastrous.

Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain: Exceptional with almost Everything.

--Anu Karwa and Marie Estrada

Visit http://www.riasbaixaswines.com for more info on Rías Baixas Albariños from Spain

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