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Burgundy Wines Meet International Foods

How do you entertain with only two wine varieties at your disposal?

That may seem like a challenge to some, but, after many years of wine tasting, the obvious challenge arose.

How do you choose wine when you entertain at home, whether it is a small, intimate dinner party or a celebration with a hundred guests? How do you choose wine at a restaurant with a wine list of over two-hundred bottles?

Thanks to an educational wine challenge from Bourgogne (Burgundy), I discovered that the scientist in me regarding wine selection for meals and entertaining has always led to one of those tense moments, where you have to please the company involved with both acceptable quality and perceived value in wine.

Often the two don’t meet and a poor choice exists.

Well those days are in the past.

Enter the wine region of Burgundy: located in northeastern France, two hours from Paris and one hour from Lyon.

The region’s climate is semi-continental, with cold winters, rainy springs and often hot, dry and sunny summers, all conditions favorable for both white and red wines.

The climate creates wines known for character and richness.

Burgundy (Bourgogne) runs north to south and is home to five wine growing regions. Chablis is the northernmost, while Maconnais is southernmost, with Cote d’Or, Cotes de Beaune and Cote Chalonnais in the middle.

The two primary grapes of Burgundy are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The goal of my wine journey was to see how well both international grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, would pair with an usual variety of foods on this planet.

The first stop to test these two grapes was a hearty, meat-centric restaurant that focuses on artisanal products, small growers and farmers. The food focus is on rich, salty, roasted flavors that include sausage, terrines and charcuterie.

My first course was a Beef & Stilton Pie, paired with a (Pinot Noir) Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits, 2009 Don Michel Gros, followed by a Crostini with Char-grilled Greens & Miticrema matched with a (Chardonnay) Marsannay, Les Clos, Monopole 2009. The final appetizer was a house favorite, Lamb Meatballs with Parmesan Cream paired with a Pinot Noir, Morey-St.-Denis 1er Cru, Les Ruchots.

The result: Amazing pairings of wine and food that were as perfect as pairings could be.

The second stop was an Indian restaurant, where Riesling and Gewurtztraminer generally rule. In this case, ‘Saag Paneer’, a poached gnocchi with spiced spinach puree on top of an omani lemon crisp. It was obvious that the Macon-Village 2011 Chardonnay was the mate to this dish. Salmon Tandoor Tikka followed with a glass of Vire Clesse, Maison Chanson Pere & Fils 2010 Chardonnay. And the final Indian dish was tandoor-cooked chicken simmered in a sauce with cashews, white poppy seeds and cream. A wonderful Poilly Fuisse, Somaine Eric Forest, 2008 drank like velvet with this chicken.

The result: Choose Chardonnay, in this case, the wines from the Maconnais region, to pair with exotic and spicy foods. The fruity sweetness of the wines stand up exceptionally well.

Greek food was next. The clean flavors of Greece pair exceptionally well with the wines from Chablis, which are largely oak free Chardonnays.

Spanikopita (spinach and feta cheese), grilled Octopus with almonds, chickpeas, capers, onions and lemon juice, and Kotopoulo-Chicken in lemon sauce paired perfectly with three Chardonnays, Saint Bris, 2011, Domaine Clotilde Davenne; Chablis 2011, Domaine Christian Moreau and Chablis Grand Cru, Vaudesir 2010, Domaine Billaud-Simon.

The results: Greek food and the wine from Chablis should be married.

The next food experience was sushi, where the lighter type of food, often fish oriented were a great match for the lighter wines from the Cote de Beaune region. Yellow tail sashimi to Chili Crab spring rolls paired well with the two Chardonnays, 2011 Domaine Henri Delagrange & Fils and the 2010 Domaine Simon Bize, while Wagyu Beef Tulip sushi and the Volnay 1er Cru, 2009, Domaine Oliver Leflaive Pinot Noir were a pair.

The results: Japanese food cries for the wines from the Cotes de Beaune region.

Finally the wines from the Cote Chalonnais region and Italian food match like Romeo & Juliet. Charred razor clams, fennel and chorizo matched the citrus flavor of Montugny 2010, Domaine Louis Latour’s Chardonnay. I finished with Agnolotti, a dish of braised pork percels, chickpea pesto, mint parmesan and black truffle sugo. Add a glass of Mercurey, 2010, Domaine Michel Juillot Pinot Noir and you feel like a king.

The results: The versatility of the wines from Burgundy, specifically the varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, can replace the pre-conceived notion that you pair foods with wines from the same region.

Think about any country’s cuisine and think about Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Burgundy as a wine match. It worked for me with foods form Japan, Greece, England, Italy and India.

It can work for you!


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Posted by on August 1, 2013. Filed under Food,Wine and Beyond. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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