Thursday, March 13, 2014

Swallowing Clouds - Wine Pairing

Wine Pairing Flavors:
Plummy, salty sweet pork & cabbage filled wontons, floating in a chicken broth flavored with stir-fried cabbage, wilted & sweet, and peppery baby bok choy, then finished with beaten eggs, a drizzle of hoisin sauce and freshly chopped chives.

Want the recipe?
Here’s a link back to the Hoisin Wonton Soup.

Want the beer pair?
Check in next Thursday for my beer pairing post.

Salty soup and bubbly wine.  It's a winning combination, but it wasn't always this way.

I'm pretty sure that almost as long as there's been soup, someone's been busy putting salt in it, but bubbles in wine?  Now, that's a whole another story.

Bubbles.  Today they fill our dreams, our sodas, our mineral waters, our bathtubs and our wines.  But once upon a time, many moons ago, wine was only drunk one way – totally still and without a bubble in sight.  Why, it was just like motion pictures – only without the motion.

That is, of course, until the French monk, Dom Pierre Pérignon, accidentally came upon the process that today puts a sparkle in many an eye, glass and celebration.

"I'm drinking stars!" he’s said to have exclaimed at the moment of his discovery, and today, the whole world answers him with a resounding shout – “Champagne!”

But not to dampen your enthusiasm any, to be more specific, according to French law, only wine made and bottled in the French region of Champagne can bear that specific name, and all others must be called something else.

But that's not to say that bubbly from the other regions of France (called “crémant” or “vin mousseux”) is of poor quality.  Quite the opposite, as you’re soon to taste.  Today's pairing, the Grandin Brut-Rosé, which I picked up from Jenn, owner of Colorado Wine Company in Los Angeles, is a sparkling rosé wine from the Loire, which is a region located south and west of Champagne. 
Made in the same method as wines from Champagne (a method indicated on the label as “méthode traditionnelle”), still wines (sometimes from different vintages) are created and then blended together to create a house style that is replicated year after year.  And once the blend is completed, a precisely measured sugar and yeast solution is then added before bottling, which causes the wine to undergo a secondary fermentation in the closed bottle, resulting in sparkling wine.

However, although the method itself may be Champagne, the flavor is all Loire, with Cabernet Franc (the best red-wine grape of the Loire) and Cabernet Sauvignon, being the two primary grape varieties used to make it.  And it's these two red grapes which not only give the wine it's pretty pink salmon color, but also add an extra softness and fullness.

Lightly yeasty, with aromas and flavors of strawberries and red flowers, this fruity, dry bubbly with its small, persistent bubbles, is a refreshingly crisp drink on its own, however, once paired with my soup, the pairing prowess begins.

First, the wine's strawberry fruit is accentuated by the hoisin sauce’s sweet, plummy flavors, and then the wine’s crisp acidity begins to play a lovely game of seesaw with the soup’s salty sweetness.

So, in the end, fruit emphasizes fruit, while acid balances out salty and sweet.  And it's this delightful interplay of flavors that helps to make this pairing so deliciously complete.

Need more flavors?

Here's a peek at my beer pairing coming up next –

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