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Posts Tagged ‘wine and fish’

Oysters and Chablis

August 8th, 2011 No comments

Oysters have, since ancient times, been regarded as potent aphrodisiacs.  While this belief may be partially attributed to myth and sympathetic magic, a group of Italian and American researchers found that oysters, along with certain other shellfish, are “rich in rare amino acids that trigger increased levels of [arousing] hormones.”  History’s most famous lover, Giacomo Casanova (1725-1798), were he alive today, would probably cheer at this finding; Casanova championed the idea that sharing succulent oysters was the best way to lead to an evening of sensuous delight.  But oysters don’t do it for all couples.  Some people love them, some don’t, and still others are allergic to shellfish.  But even if your companion can’t (or won’t) slurp down the smooth, slippery, succulent little sea critters, he or she can certainly share a good bottle of white wine with you while you enjoy them!
Because there are many kinds of oysters, you will find that certain whites pair better with different varieties.  However, there is one wine that goes with them all, swimmingly: Chablis.  Because its grapes are grown in France’s Burgundy region where the soil is rich with fossilized oyster shells, the aroma of Chablis contains limestone, peach, and (you guessed it) oyster shells!  Its flavor, too, often contains traces of sea salt.  If your lover is into literature, perhaps a passage from Hemmingway’s A Moveable Feast may help encourage him or her to partake with you: “As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”  The next time you order oysters, consider asking for a bottle of Chablis, too.  Enjoy!

Oysters paired with wine

Image courtesy of mailintalks.com

Wine and Food: What Not To Mix

Wine and Food Pairing pic courtesy of pjwineblog.com

We’re often told what wines go well with certain food items, but we rarely discuss which wines and foods don’t mix well.  Here’s a few “don’ts”

  • Though a Chardonnay pairs well with chicken, salmon, and creamy sauces, it fails to delight when sipped with hot, spicy foods!
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  • Even a good bottle of Pinot Noir can become offensive when served with hot and spicy foods, and vice versa.
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  • If you’re having a semi-spicy dish filled with tomatoes, it’s best to avoid serving Pinot Grigio–the wine often mistakenly believed to “go with everything”.
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  • Dry Rieslings do not mix well with sweet foods and sugary dessert items.
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  • Neither will Sancerre or a Merlot (though many people often try the latter and are surprised by the unpleasant result!)
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  • When serving fish dishes, avoid serving a Shiraz.  And even a decent Cabernet may be too much for select fish dishes–it depends on the fish, and your taste!

  Remember: it’s all about balance.  You don’t want a strong wine to overpower a light food item, or a hearty dish to overpower a lighter wine.  Have fun with your wine pairing adventures, and refer to the advice above to avoid any (unpleasant) surprises!

Cooking with Chardonnays

March 17th, 2011 No comments

chardonnay grapes

Chardonnay grapes image from wine.appellationamerica.com

After my pleasant Chardonnay experience in early March, I decided to try my luck at incorporating a few Chards into my recipes.  To my delight, many of my dishes turned out quite well.  First of all, I used some splashes of Chardonnay on pan-fried salmon, covering both sides.  This proved delightful, especially when a creamy parmesan cheese sauce was drizzled over the top of the fish.  Next, I sprinkled some Chardonnay over a few chicken breasts I later coated with bread crumbs and baked.  This, too turned out to be quite yummy, and the Chard complimented the light taste of the chicken perfectly!

The following day, using up some trout in the freezer, I submerged the fish in Chardonnay for 15 minutes, then stuffed it with bread crumbs and sprinkled some dill on top.  Topping the baked fish with melted butter and a pinch of salt was the icing on the cake!  Lastly, I substituted some Chardonnay for half of the butter called for in a much-loved crab cake recipe.  The result was a bit curious at first; however, after adding a few drops of lemon juice atop each cake the rich interplay of flavors made for quite a delight! 

When deciding with Chardonnay to use in your food, consider the following: old world Chards can be either rich or light.  Make sure you use light ones when cooking less-rich dishes so you don’t overpower your dish.  New world Chardonnays are grown in areas that are warmer, and they tend to taste more rich, ripe, and oakey.  Full-bodied wines like these work best with dishes requiring richness, like anything with thick, creamy sauces. 

I hope this post inspires you to take a wine you may not be as familiar with and experiment with it in your cooking.  If you get hooked on cooking with a specific wine, but don’t want to feel pressured to finish the bottle each time, consider investing in a Vintner Wine Dispenser System or other wine preserver–they will keep your half-bottle fresh much longer than just recorking.

Have you experimented with a new variety of wine in your cooking? Tell us about it!

Pass the Butter, and the 2545 Cellars Chardonnay!

March 1st, 2011 No comments

2545 Cellars Chardonnay 2009

Although I don’t usually keep Chardonnay on hand in my home, I decided to try a bottle of 2545 Cellars Chardonnay 2009 this weekend.  Though not a frequent Chardonnay drinker, I was pleasantly surprised by this delightful wine.  In fact, this is one of the better Chards I’ve had in the past few years.  The nose is extremely pleasant with fragrances of vanilla, oranges, and other fruits.  The taste combines a complex of honey, herbs, passion fruit, and wonderful oak that balances exceptionally well.  The typical “buttery” taste of a chardonnay is very prevalent and makes this a wine that pairs strikingly well with dishes that utilize lots of butter.  Though the weight of the body is slightly lighter than expected, this wine makes up for it with a rich and long-lasting finish that is sure to delight.  It will complement any type of lightly buttered pasta dish extremely well (without tomato sauce, mind you!)  Though it can work with salmon, white fish like tilapia or–even better–pan fried flounder with butter make for an exceptionally good pairing with the 2545 Cellars Chardonnay.  Try lightly sprinkling the top of the fish with seasoned bread crumbs 4 minutes before it finishes cooking, and be sure to pour the excess butter from the pan over the fish before serving.  2545 Cellars Chardonnay 2009 also pairs well with light cheese sauces.  Try it with peppered broccoli and cheese for a surprising treat.  This wine, though given to me by a friend not knowing my usual vino preferences, turned out to be a fantastic discovery.  Give it a try with your buttery dishes, and be sure to serve it chilled!  A Eurocave Comfort wine cabinet is perfect for maintaining the ideal temperature of this wine and will fit nicely in your kitchen.