Thursday, June 26, 2014

Quite a Catch - Wine Pairing

Wine Pairing Flavors:
Ahi tuna, coated with toasted sesame oil, then sprinkled with dried orange zest, chili pepper, ginger and toasted sesame seeds, before being quickly pan seared and finished with a sake pan sauce

Want the recipe?
Here’s a link back to the Double Sesame Seared Tuna

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


A rosé, is a rosado, is a rosato.

If Gertrude Stein spoke wine that's probably what she would've written.  But she didn't, which is really a shame, because she didn't even know what she was missing.

And what she was missing is a big chunk of history that goes by many names.  Speak French?  Rosé.  How about Spanish or Portuguese?  Rosado.  Or maybe you'd like to try a bit of Italian?  It's rosato that goes down easy when ordering in Florence or Rome.

But whatever you want to call it, you'll be asking for the very same thing.  Now of course, all wines have history, but some just have more than others.  And if we're talking Rosé, you’ll be taking a really huge sip.

So, tip back your glass as many have done for millennia before you and savor a taste of this granddaddy of wines which was likely once the way all wines appeared.  Today's detractors call rosés, unfinished red wines, which I can't deny, but only from the viewpoint of modern eyes.

So let's see the world when winemaking was young and when red or white grapes were pressed by hand or by foot soon after harvest and then quickly separated from the grape skins, stems and seeds.

Even ancient Greek winemakers knew that pressing the grapes harder and letting the juice sit on its skins (which is called maceration), made wines less desireable since they were not only heartier and darker, but also harsh and astringent. 

So instead, they quickly drew off the juice, resulting in wines that were pale red or pink in color, and these became the wines that were most highly prized.  And it was a preference that lasted well into the Middle Ages, when Bordeaux made pale colored rosés and Champagne was a still wine with a blush of pink.

For Rosé was popular because it straddled the distance, being a red without harshness and yet with the refreshing qualities of a white.

But although rosés across the globe may share a similar process, don’t think that that means that they all taste the same. Different regions are free to use many different grapes and winemakers produce them in a wide variety of styles.  Ranging in color from pale onionskin orange to a vivid near purple, they also can be dry or sweet, bubbly, semi-sparkling or still.  And sometimes very pale rosés are just labeled "blush."

However, it wasn't the Romans who were blushing when they entered the wine region in southeastern France in 125 BCE.  And their prize was a district with a long-standing fine wine reputation that they dubbed “provincia nostra," meaning "our province," which we call today, "Provence."  And with this conquest, Provence became the first Roman province found outside Italy.

And Provence today is still a region in love with warm summers and mild winters and remains known primarily for its Rosé.  And it's here you'll find in this historic winemaking area the winery estate of Domaines Ott, our prestigious rosé wine pairing partner.  Founded in 1912 by Alsatian agricultural engineer Marcel Ott, today the winery is owned and managed by Louis Roederer Champagne.

Their Les Domaniers bottling contains grapes sourced from select growers within the Côte de Provence region rather than from one of Domaines Ott’s three estate vineyards, thus making the wine an affordable taste of a luxury brand.

And it’s a bottling that's comprised of three grape varieties found throughout Provence, that cherish the hot and dry weather so prevalent in this part of France – Grenache, for its body and bouquet, Cinsault for a touch of silkiness, and lastly, a very small percentage of Syrah, to add color and a note of spice.

And when you finally pop the cork and it spills into your glass, the first thing that greets you is its pretty, pale salmon color and delicate aromas of melon and Asian pear, with just a hint of citrus.  With its pleasingly rounded mouthfeel, this rosé is yet still crisp and refreshing with a nice line of acidity that concludes in a relatively long and lingering finish.

But now let's get down to the rosé as our food pairing partner.  And where should we begin?  Well, according to the old adage:

Red wine with red meat.
White wine white meat.
And pink wine with.....


Why, of course.  Pink wine with Double Sesame Seared Tuna. 

The lightly caramelized sweetness of the tuna’s sesame sauce reduction along with the toasted flavor of sesame oil and sesame seeds makes for a great contrast with the crisp acidity of the wine. 

And this crisp acidity is also a feature that not only lightens the dense meatiness of our tuna as a "steak of the sea," but also counterbalances and cleanses the natural oiliness of the fish.  And so, with each sip and bite, wine and tuna go hand in hand – with the dish’s darker, meatier flavors refreshed with the rosés vibrant, fresh fruit.
And I'm glad that Jason Oh of Mission Wine and Spirits steered me in the direction of this moderately priced (under $20), yet high-quality rosé.  It's a perfect summer beverage that's ideal for the warmer months of the year.  And if you're lucky enough to live in a Mediterranean climate like Provence or L.A., you can enjoy these beverages almost all year long, just like they did when winemaking was young.

And now, here's a peek at my beer pair that's coming up next –

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