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Red Wines For All Foods

April 5th, 2012 No comments
Chicken, traditionally served with white wine, can also be enjoyed with red wine.

Traditionally served with white wine, chicken can also be enjoyed with red! (Photo by Steven Walling)

If you’ve read our recent post, If You’re Going to Drink, Choose Red!, you may be wondering how to effectively increase your red wine consumption by substituting it for white.  The good news is that there’s a red wine alternative to just about every “traditional” white-wine dish!

Though it may take you (and some of your guests) a little time to get out of the mindset that certain foods must always be enjoyed with either whites or reds, specifically, the rewards are more red wine consumption at your table and (quite often) more interesting pairings!

Let’s start with fish!  When it comes to the creatures of the sea, white wine has been given dominion.  However, there are excellent reds that will not overpower your fine, flaky fillets.  Try a baked or grilled fish dish with a bottle of Cabernet Franc or a nice Cote du Rhone.  These red wines, because of their low acidity, blend quite well with almost all of your typical fish dishes.

Next comes pasta!  If you’re eating pasta with tomato sauce, experiment with almost any red!  Reds, in general, are fantastic with tomato sauces (especially those with meatballs!)  If your pasta is covered with a tantalizing cheese sauce, consider pairing your plate with a light Burgundy or Merlot.  These two wines are excellent compliments to cheese sauces of all kinds, even ones that incorporate a bit of spice!

Lastly, we come to chicken!  Like the numerous reds that go well with tomato sauce, I urge you to experiment!  For a few starters, consider pairing your bird with a bottle of Pinot Noir, Chianti, Barolo, or (a personal favorite) Beaujolais.  Beaujolais works especially well with recipes involving cornish game hens sprinkled with rosemary, as well as barbecued chicken.  Have fun, be adventurous, and keep track of the reds you find work best with your favorite “white wine” foods.  Enjoy!

Wine Profile: Chianti

March 6th, 2010 No comments

Chianti used to be regarded as an inferior wine.  But in the last 40 years, this simple red has undergone what might be bigger changes than any other varietal out there.  Chianti is made mostly from Sangiovese grapes: one of the hardest kinds of wine grapes to grow.  In the past, growers over-cut the Sangiovese vines, and also mixed the resulting wine with other varietals (some Chiantis were only 50% Sangiovese) led to a shoddy product: Chiantis were often low in taste and too acidic.  In the ’80s, Chiantis experienced a revival.  Superior Sangiovese grapes were rediscovered, and regulations became more stringent (now, a Chianti must be at least 75% Sangiovese, and the remainder must be an approved varietal).  As a result, today’s Chianti is a much better product than it used to be.  Many Chianti brands have also lost the traditional straw basket in favor of a sleeker, re-vamped look.

Chianti is the traditional wine of Tuscany.  Tuscany, which lies in the hilly country between Florence and Siena, has been producing Chianti for 700 years.  Today, seven areas of Tuscany produce Chianti: Classico, Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colline Pisane, Colli Senesi, Montalbano and Rùfina.  Chianti produced in the central Classico area is traditionally regarded as the best.

Chianti is a strong, bold wine: very dry and tannic.  It pairs well with foods with strong spices or flavors; it will overwhelm a dish that’s too delicate.  That said, it’s great with a huge variety of foods, like pork, chicken, and beef, but obviously, its classic pairing is with Italian food.  Chianti was made to be drunk with pasta, and pizza.  And despite its recent improvements, most bottles are still relatively inexpensive, meaning that you can snap up a great bottle for a wallet-friendly price.

Chianti isn’t a crowd-pleaser, like a Merlot or a Chardonnay.  It’s more of an all-or-nothing wine: some like it, some hate it.  Which side of the fence do you fall on?