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Posts Tagged ‘Food and Wine Pairing’

The Wines of Languedoc-Roussillon

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Largest Wine Region

Vastness of Languedoc-Roussillon REgion

Vineyards of Languedoc-Roussillon Region

The Languedoc-Roussillon wine-growing region is the largest in the world. This vast region west of the Rhône River covers more than 2.4 million acres. Previously considered a cheap wine region, it now holds Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) status.  There are 30 sub-appellations that call Languedoc-Roussillon home.

 

 

The most prominent are:

  • Languedoc
  • Muscat
  • Blanquette de Limoux
  • Côtes du Roussillon
  • Corbières
  • Minervois
  • Saint Chinian
  • Faugères

 

First in France

Many people will be surprised to learn that Languedoc was the first wine-growing region of France. Did you know that wine has been produced there for the last 27 centuries? That’s a hell-of-a-long time! It boasts a Mediterranean climate, allowing for a long-growing season. The varied soils range from limestone, granite, rock and schist. This results in a wide range of styles and a diverse mix of grape varieties. Red, white, rosé, sparkling and fortified wines are produced throughout.

Steak with Mushrooms and Risotto

Steak with Mushrooms and Risotto

The red wines make great food companions. You can joy them with barbeque, Asian-inspired dishes like beef and broccoli and stews, as well as vegetarian foods like sauteed or grilled mushrooms.

Bordering the Mediterranean Sea, seafood such as anchovies, grilled fish and octopus make natural accompaniments. Also, due to proximity with northern Spain, the Roussillon region is home to many Catalan people, which greatly influences the cuisine.

Great Pairing with a Crab Cake

Great Pairing with a Crab Cake

In recent years, there has been an influx of outside investment to the area, including Brad Pitt. Also, recent technological improvements have helped elevate the quality of wines. Below are some of the better producing regions, along with perfect food and wine pairing ideas:

 

 

 

White Wines
  1. AOC Languedoc-Picpoul de Pinet
  2. AOP Clariette du Languedoc
  3. IGP Pays d’Oc Chardonnay  ( IGP- Identication Géographique Protégée)

Pairings: Various seafood, fresh goat cheese

Red Wines
  1. AOP Côtes du Roussillon
  2. AOP Corbières
  3. IGP Pays d’Oc Syrah

Pairings: Cassoulet of beans and sausage, BBQ

Rosés
  1. AOP Languedoc-Pic St. Loup
  2. IGP Pays c-Oc

Pairings: Spanish tapas, North African and Asian-influenced dishes

Sparkling Wines
  1. AOC Blanquette de Limoux
  2. AOC Crémant de Limoux

Pairings: Cheese courses, soups, dishes using creamy sauces, salads

Puff Pastry with Ice Cream & Chocolate

Puff Pastry with Ice Cream & Chocolate

Fortified Sweet Wines (Vins Doux Naturals)
  1.  AOC Banyuls  & Banyuls Grand Cru
  2. AOC Maury

Pairings: Desserts, cheeses

 

 

 

 

 

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White Wines for Christmas

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Rhône-style Whites for Christmas

 

White Wines for Christmas Dinner

White Wines for Christmas Dinner

If you are looking for white wines for Christmas but dread having to drink another bottle of Chardonnay, then you should turn to Rhône Valley-inspired whites. Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc are four popular and food-friendly options. By drinking outside the box this Christmas season, you’ll start a new tradition while discovering some amazingly delicious wines.

Of the four, Viognier is the most well-known and most likely to be produced as a single-variety bottle. It has a very aromatic peach nose and taste, followed by Springtime honeysuckle and lime. A medium- to full-bodied wine, Viognier holds up nicely to food.

 

Get with the Blend
Wines for Christmas

Wines for Christmas

Many Americans tend to think that blends, two or more wines combined to produce a single wine, are inferior. This false perception is fueled by the predominance of wines produced as a single variety in America. However, in Old World wine regions, blends are the norm.

In the Rhône Valley, Roussanne and Marsanne are integral blends in the production of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Hermitage wines. In the esteemed northern Rhône Côte-Rôtie region, up to 20% Viognier is added to Syrah. Southern Rhône winemakers blend up to 10 different wines, and on occasion more.

 

Christmas Dinner Selections

Christmas Wines

These Rhône-inspired whites are superb wines for Christmas dinner:

  • Tablas Creek Vineyard, located in Paso Robles, focuses a lot of their blends on Rhône-style wines. Their 2012 Esprit de Tablas Blanc is made using Roussanne primarily.  The wine’s taste brings back memories of a summer day with citrus, apricot and white peaches.  The abundant minerality allows it to pair well with Christmas foods including seafood appetizers such as shrimp or a main salmon dish.  $45
  • Santa Barbara County winery Beckmen Vineyards 2011 Le Bec Blanc gives a bow to France with a blend of  Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier.  At only $18, it offers all the classic flavors noted above.
  • E. Guigal La Doeriane Viognier (Condrieu, France) This is a quintessential 100% Viognier that’s a little pricey at $100 but worth it if you can drink in this neighborhood.
  • I started drinking wines from this producer about four years ago and have never been disappointed. The 2012 Cline Cellars Viognier has lush honeysuckle, white peach and ripe pear flavors. It pairs well with turkey and gravy. Priced near $16, it’s not an overly complex wine but carries enough acidity to earn a spot at the dinner table.

Merry Christmas!

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Food and Wine Pairings Updated

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Grilled Steak with Peppercorns

Grilled Steak with Peppercorns

A New Look at Food and Wine Pairings

 

Have food and wine pairings changed?  In the last of our 3-part series on 5 New Food and Wine Pairing, we discuss food complements. Part 1, New Food and Wine Pairing Tips and part 2 Re-examining Food and Wine Pairings,  In part 5, we’ll take a look at food and wine complements.

 

5. Foods must Always Complement Each Other – Well, Yes and No on this One.

  • Generally, you should choose foods and wines that contrast one another.  But that’s not always the case. I call this my Beyoncé rule. Just like an oak-aged Chardonnay may not immediately seem like the perfect partner for a creamy, sautéed dish and Jay-Z, a rather plain-looking chap may not seem like the ideal partner for gorgeous Beyoncé.  On first glance, the oak-heavy wine may seem too overpowering for this dish, like Beyoncé may seem like too much woman for Jay-Z.  However, add a drizzle of lemon juice to the food after cooking and the citrus in the lemon cuts through some of the oak, allowing more vanilla to shine through.  This makes for a lovely contrast.
  • So you must decide which will shine at your table – the wine or the dish.   You need to know which will be the eye candy at your table.  Obviously we all know who the pretty one is in the Beyoncé/Jay-Z marriage.  There’s more to that marriage than any of us will ever know. Just like there’s more to pairing unlikely dishes with wine.

    Salmon Steak

    Salmon Steak

  • Another example, you may think that a white wine could be the perfect complement to tuna.  But a nice cut of tuna has a similar texture as salmon, which pairs nicely with Pinot Noir.  So just as Beyoncé and Jay-Z must also complement each other (in ways we can only imagine), these two oddly paired dinner companions can work nicely together.
  • But then, some complements were meant to be together. For example, a juicy grilled steak still pairs nicely with an old-vine Zinfandel.  Think Paul Newman and Joan Woodward.
Sommelier Pouring Wine

Ask Your Sommelier

 

The wines and foods we all consume these days present wonderful opportunities to try out new pairings.  So don’t be afraid to ask your sommelier for a wine pairing a little off the classic pairing trail.  It just might be the highlight of the evening.

 

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