Perfect Pairings

I am often asked “so what’s your favorite wine?” Or if I’m at the shop “show me your favorite bottle.” I have many favorite bottles, and I find it challenging to pick just one. My response is always the same. “Well, it depends on the time of year and what I’m eating.”

Here, I share some of my favorite “pairings” that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing recently. (Feel free to click on the food photos for larger images. I reduced the sizes in all cases just to fit well in this post)

Herb Roasted Pheasant with NV Domaine Parigot Bourgogne Mousseaux Rouge Brut

I was lucky enough to acquire a couple of wild pheasants for this meal. This sparkling wine has rich and juicy fruit, a dry finish, and enough structure to hold up to the game. I was told by my colleague to “let it go still” but the wine is too delicious to hold untouched in my glass…. Oh well.

Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallop, Lemon Oil, and Caviar with 2008 Dmne Gilbert Picq et Ses Fils Chablis Dessus La Carriere

Cauliflower is something that confused me when it came to pairings. Instead of focusing on the base, I focused my attention to all of the additions to the soup for my pairing. The fruit from this vineyard site result in a wine that has gorgeous minerality to it but also possesses some riper qualities making the mouthfeel a tad richer than you would expect out of a Chablis. The acidity of the lemon and the brininess of the caviar paired perfectly with the mineral and racy tones of the wine; while the richness of the seared scallop complimented the fruit and weight of it. It was truly an ideal pairing!

Caramelized Onion and Duck Confit Flatbread with 2009 Domaine Georges Vernay Cotes du Rhone Sainte Agathe

I wasn’t sure about this pairing. And even after loving the two together, I’m still unsure as to WHY it worked so well. But it did. The flatbread was topped with caramelized onion, duck confit, fresh herbs, and fontina and asiago cheeses. The wine is so unique being a red varietal from the Condrieu region. It is a really elegant Syrah with its almost floral aromatics but still possesses the dark fruit and the smoky and peppery tones that you may be expecting. All of the flavors married well, making me one happy gal.

Shahjahani Biryani with 2009 Donnhoff Oberhauser Leistenberg Riesling Kabinett

We order the Shahjahani Biryani from Neelam (Berkeley Heights) regularly. SO regularly that the folks at the restaurant now “know” us and try to throw in some other things when we order just to show us that they DO know how to cook other types of Indian food. :)   The 09 Donnhoff Oberhauser Kabinett is the perfect pairing. Showing fabulous acidity, the wine stays fresh but still contains enough RS to provide some relief from the heat of the spices of the dish.

Seared Hake “almost” with 1985 Domaine Huet Vouvray Clos du Bourg Moelleux

We went to elements recently (I know, so unlike us to dine there) and they served us this lovely dish. Seared Hake with an almond puree, olive oil powder, and if I remember correctly, some sort of either acacia, quince, or tropical fruit accompaniment. I forgot to take notes, so can’t be certain of that final ingredient. What I am certain of though is that the 85 Clos du Bourg would have been the perfect wine to drink with this dish. It’s as though Chef Scott Anderson created the dish for the wine. Tones of marzipan, and acacia round out the weight but the finish still showcases lovely acidity. Somewhat off-dry in style, this wine would have been perfect with the Hake…. had it not been corked. :( The dish was fabulous – so complex, and the flavors melded so well. Subtle flavors of almond matched the beautiful taste and texture of the fish. And the brightness to the dish was brought out with that honey or fruit component. (This will bother me for days now!)  The olive oil powder was a really neat touch too. Despite the fact that I never actually tasted the two together, I still had to publish it here because I thought the pairing was so spot on.


  1. Ina Moore says:

    Wow. I especially love the soup and the Chablis! (I know what you are thinking but you have converted me to a White Burgundy drinker!) Is elements the place in Princeton that you are always telling us fabulous things about?

  2. nita says:

    Ina… yes, you WOULD love the Chablis pairing! Very much your thing. And yes re: elements.

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