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Great Food and Wine Pairings


Abra
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As a personal chef I'm often required to pair wines I haven't tasted with the perfect dishes (some of which I've never tasted before either, but that's another story). I can read the "rules" of pairing, and follow them when I must. I have a good wine guy in town, although he likes big wham! pow! wines a lot more than I do. I drink as much wine as I can manage, to get my own ideas (which nearly always tend to the Old World), but frankly I can't afford a lot of what my clients drink. And sometimes, I just want to feel absolutely secure in my choice, and know that the diners will swoon in ecstasy over the pairing. Hence, my appeal to you here.

In November I'm doing a meal for a guy who is one of those big, powerhouse wine drinkers. He really wants to showcase a couple of things from his cellar, and I said I'd come up with the perfect matches. There's no chance that I'll get even one sip of these wines before the event, and I get one chance to do it right.

What he's got is what he describes as a "recent" Leonetti Cab, a David Anderson 2003 Pinot, and a Kistler 2000 Chard.

In a perfect world, what would you like to eat with those? I'm just praying there's not much/any oak in that Kistler!

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Your client seems to love oak. For the Leonetti, I'd only recommend a big ass steak with lots of marbling. Nothing subtle. You can go surf and tuf with lobster and take care of the Kistler as well. If the Kistler is meant for a different course, I'd do something scallop-like with a rich sauce. John Ash's Scallops with Vanilla-Scented Sauce is a recipe I've made a number of times, and was created for rich California Chardonnays.

I've never heard of David Anderson Pinot Noir.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Oh dear, I also just discovered the Leonetti thread, which rails against the oak. I hate to taste oak in wine I'm cooking for! But I love John Ash, so there's hope there, and that looks like a very nice recipe.

Silly me, since I can't afford Leonetti, and it has such mega-mystique, I'd assumed it would be fabulous.

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Brad's suggestions are pretty right on. I'm not a total quercophobe, but agree too much oak is not conducive to great matches.

Some sort of big red-meat (rare if your client will agree) dish is best with the tannins and oak of the Leonetti.

Kistler's chardonnays are all pretty oaky, but well-done. Lobster with drawn butter is the fallback, but I like Brad's scallop idea. Another good match (with an Aubert, similar style to Kistler ) I had recently was a polenta with shrimp and chorizo.

I also am not familar with the David Anderson PN, but one might assume it's in line sylistically with the other two. A Kistler PN matched well with a smoked duck and mushroom risotto at same dinner as the polenta. I would normally prefer a low-oak pinot with duck, but the oak did well with smoked duck,and the starch of the risotto seemed to soften the oak and tannin of the big CalPN.

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with the cab you can also go the short ribs route or oxtail or marrow.

more adventurous would be squab.

with most american pinot noir i love roasting a chicken (well i always love roasting a chicken....and usually i pick pinot noir with it)

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Oxtail, bingo! There's a fabulous Basque braised oxtail dish that might be perfect here. It's dark and deep and could probably tackle the oak. Thanks for the ideas, chefboy24!

I've got some duck confit going and was wondering how I can work it into the Pinot. It'll be too late for chanterelles, which seems like a natural.

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Oxtail, bingo!  There's a fabulous Basque braised oxtail dish that might be perfect here.  It's dark and deep and could probably tackle the oak.  Thanks for the ideas, chefboy24!

I've got some duck confit going and was wondering how I can work it into the Pinot.  It'll be too late for chanterelles, which seems like a natural.

A couple of comments here. Braised oxtail would be a great dish. IMO, however, not a great dish with a Leonetti Cabernet. Braised meats are terrific with Rhone and Rhone-like wines, and would probably go better with pinot noir than a Leonetti Cab. I think you'd be much better served with an "in your face" dish to go with the Leonetti.

Regarding David Anderson Pinot Noir, I googled it and found nothing. So let's assume it's a domestic wine (probably California) under a different name. Duck confit would be an okay match. Seared or grilled salmon might be better. But the confit is something you could have mostly done ahead of time.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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I can't find anything on David Anderson Pinot either. I'll have to ask the client more about this wine. Brad, what wouild you suggest as an "in your face" dish? Steak really wouldn't suit the ambience of this dinner, which will be right before Thanksgiving.

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I'm going to brainstorm here and guess that the Pinot in question could be an Anderson Valley offering, produced by David Bruce. Although there is a David Anderson who is the general manager for Yamhill Valley Vineyards which is a Willamette Valley pinot (although that winemaker is Stephen Cary and they usually don't name the wine after the manager).

Regardless, an in-your-face meal to go with the Leonetti Cab could be something like lamb. Rich, elegant, and provides lost of variations on sauces and presentation. I'd consider a Crown Roast for the Wow factor and perhaps a wild-rice and roasted root vegetable accompaniament.

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I am not quite the oakaphobe as some others here.

My view of the Leonetti wines is that they are indeed heavily oaked--Leonetti (Figgins) is upfront about his love of oak flavors.

What I have found in most of the Leonetti wines is a lot of really ripe complex fruit that often (when these wines are best) holds its own-- balancing the oak somewhat.

So you get a very "glossy" rich wine with a core of fruit-cherries, blackfruits, and some earthy notes as well with spices-cloves etc.---these are often not as "monolithic" as some people believe.

They also can have good structure--they are not flabby.

Having said this, Brad is on to something--I would pair Leonetti wines with something simple and very bold in flavor very direct, if you will.

Grilled preferably. Perhaps something more exotic than beef--maybe elk or buffalo even wild boar or goat.

You could even try goose or muscovy duck.

A sauce that is fruit based-orange, cherries etc (sweet sour) and simple would work. Even better--a glaze.

As for the Kistler--these are big complex chardonnays and I (and others) often find a yeasty note --lot's of flavor and personality in these wines--so again simple straightforward boldly flavored food works best--lobster is good rec.

would help if you knew the vintages.

also a longshot:

mifght be at least interesting to call/email the winery and ask gary figgins what he likes to drink em with.

Edited by JohnL (log)
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I'm going to brainstorm here and guess that the Pinot in question could be an Anderson Valley offering, produced by David Bruce. Although there is a David Anderson who is the general manager for Yamhill Valley Vineyards which is a Willamette Valley pinot (although that winemaker is Stephen Cary and they usually don't name the wine after the manager).

Regardless, an in-your-face meal to go with the Leonetti Cab could be something like lamb. Rich, elegant, and provides lost of variations on sauces and presentation. I'd consider a Crown Roast for the Wow factor and perhaps a wild-rice and roasted root vegetable accompaniament.

Solid rec on the Crown Roast of Lamb for flavor and ooh ahh.

I don't think David Bruce makes an Anderson Valley Pinot, but I'm not totally sure.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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You could even try goose or muscovy duck.

A sauce that is fruit based-orange, cherries etc (sweet sour) and simple would work. Even better--a glaze.

Here is where I am in total disagreement. I would never consider preparing a fruit-based sauce with a Cabernet. If the Cab is remotely fruit-forward, than you have fruit fighting fruit, usually making the wine and/or the sauce taste bitter and heightening the acids. Better to enhance the fruit in the wine with reducing some port for a base of a darker Sauce Robert or something.

With fruit-based sauces, I tend to go towards Cabernet Franc, which shows far more vegetal notes (often why it is used in blending) and can complement a fruit sauce. I often make a dried fruit-stuffed pork roast that pairs well with CabFranc. Same with venison with cherries or duck with orange. Always a CabFranc but never a CabSauv.

Just MHO.

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I'm going to brainstorm here and guess that the Pinot in question could be an Anderson Valley offering, produced by David Bruce. Although there is a David Anderson who is the general manager for Yamhill Valley Vineyards which is a Willamette Valley pinot (although that winemaker is Stephen Cary and they usually don't name the wine after the manager).

Regardless, an in-your-face meal to go with the Leonetti Cab could be something like lamb. Rich, elegant, and provides lost of variations on sauces and presentation. I'd consider a Crown Roast for the Wow factor and perhaps a wild-rice and roasted root vegetable accompaniament.

Solid rec on the Crown Roast of Lamb for flavor and ooh ahh.

I don't think David Bruce makes an Anderson Valley Pinot, but I'm not totally sure.

I don't think so either, but I'm guessing that the "Anderson" in the name probably alludes to the appellation more than the producer. The David Bruce was just a guess... There is also the Napa-based David Arthur winery. Maybe they produced an Anderson Valley pinot in the past...

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Generally, I would agree with you.

However, I should have been more specific.

By fruit based sauce I meant a sauce where the fruit was "tempered" by other flavors, anise, cloves, etc. definitely not too sweet.

Or even a red wine based sauce--reduction would work.]

Best though would be a glaze with no sauce.

The Leonetti wines are intensely fruity but not in a simple manner--there are a lot of complex flavors going on.

There are also some very spicy and earthy notes often present.

IMOP these wines would "swamp" any attempts at going counterpoint--a sauce with a subtle fruit note often works very well in going "with the grain."

By the way--I doubt that winemakers are adding cab franc to a blend for its vegetal notes.

I assume you meant "complexity."

The truth is--many of these New World wines are so extracted that much of the conventional wisdom re: food and wine pairings can be tossed out.

"Never say never"

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You could even try goose or muscovy duck.

A sauce that is fruit based-orange, cherries etc (sweet sour) and simple would work. Even better--a glaze.

Here is where I am in total disagreement. I would never consider preparing a fruit-based sauce with a Cabernet. If the Cab is remotely fruit-forward, than you have fruit fighting fruit, usually making the wine and/or the sauce taste bitter and heightening the acids. Better to enhance the fruit in the wine with reducing some port for a base of a darker Sauce Robert or something.

With fruit-based sauces, I tend to go towards Cabernet Franc, which shows far more vegetal notes (often why it is used in blending) and can complement a fruit sauce. I often make a dried fruit-stuffed pork roast that pairs well with CabFranc. Same with venison with cherries or duck with orange. Always a CabFranc but never a CabSauv.

Just MHO.

This got me thinking.

The world of wine has changed so much (and is rapidly changing now) that when someone says "cabernet sauvignon" or Cab franc there are so many styles of each that it is impossible to follow any conventional wisdom.

For eg--many cab franc's historically, have had vegetal notes. They also tended to be "lighter" than cab sauvignon (we are talking California and Wash here). However today one can try a cab franc from ,say, Pride and be tasting a wine that is not "typical" of what we got from cab franc in the past.

Thus, many of the canards about food and wine pairings no longer apply. (at least across the board).

The wines in question here (Leonetti and Kistler) are not "typical" (or maybe old style is better) cab sauvignon or chardonnay.

I guess that as we struggle with the changes and the variety of wine around the world, so too, many of the rules in wine/food pairing need to be revisited.

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A couple of comments here.  Braised oxtail would be a great dish.  IMO, however, not a great dish with a Leonetti Cabernet.  Braised meats are terrific with Rhone and Rhone-like wines, and would probably go better with pinot noir than a Leonetti Cab.  I think you'd be much better served with an "in your face" dish to go with the Leonetti.

rhone and rhone like? which part of the rhone are we talking about here buddy? cote du rhone? (i hope not). cote rotie? chateaneuf du pape? syrah and oxtail is really conservative pairing.... but usually when oxtail is around, a steak is too. oxtail and gnochi is always nice...... or oxtail and root vege. and a fruity oaky cab would be fine. or a priorat, or a gran riserva rioja, or even australian shiraz.

its not black and white, its not always "oxtail and syrah", "lamb and merlot", "ny strpi and cabernet" "lobster and chardonnay". c'mon now.

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A couple of comments here.  Braised oxtail would be a great dish.  IMO, however, not a great dish with a Leonetti Cabernet.  Braised meats are terrific with Rhone and Rhone-like wines, and would probably go better with pinot noir than a Leonetti Cab.  I think you'd be much better served with an "in your face" dish to go with the Leonetti.

rhone and rhone like? which part of the rhone are we talking about here buddy? cote du rhone? (i hope not). cote rotie? chateaneuf du pape? syrah and oxtail is really conservative pairing.... but usually when oxtail is around, a steak is too. oxtail and gnochi is always nice...... or oxtail and root vege. and a fruity oaky cab would be fine. or a priorat, or a gran riserva rioja, or even australian shiraz.

its not black and white, its not always "oxtail and syrah", "lamb and merlot", "ny strpi and cabernet" "lobster and chardonnay". c'mon now.

I meant syrah-based and some grenache-based like Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas (or, as you mention, Priorat). And Abra has asked for no miss options since there is only once chance to get it right. With the particular cabernet wine in question, the oxtail pairing would not be the no miss choice needed. If you've ever had Leonetti wines, you'll know what I mean.

As far as your black and white rant, you will find several places in this forum and others where I write something like "drink the wines you like with the foods you like." I believe there are no rules. Abra's client, however, likely doesn't ascribe to that philosophy and is looking for something to -- in his mind -- showcase his trophy wines and enlarge a portion of his anatomy. This isn't time to educate the unenlightened; it's time to be conservative and get some repeat business.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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What an interesting discussion! The guy is out of town for a few days, so I can't offer any enlightenment on the "Anderson" Pinot yet. You all are giving me lots to think about, though.

I've got to dig up that oxtail recipe to show you guys. It was almost a confit, picked off the bone and served on puff pastry, braised in red wine. As I recall it was a Basque recipe, and appeared in Saveur, but I can't find the recipe on their site. I have it somewhere. It was awesome.

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Oxtail, bingo!  There's a fabulous Basque braised oxtail dish that might be perfect here.  It's dark and deep and could probably tackle the oak.  Thanks for the ideas, chefboy24!

I've got some duck confit going and was wondering how I can work it into the Pinot.  It'll be too late for chanterelles, which seems like a natural.

it depends on what you were going to do with the chantrelles. Each Fall, when they get cheap enough, I always sautee up a batch of chantrelles in butter & toss them in the freezer to pull out & make sauce/soup with later in the winter. It makes little significant difference to the end product as the cellular damage of the freezer is masked by being cooked down for sauce/soup later, both of which should go well against a pinot.

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Whew, I was afraid that recipe had gotten lost forever. It was Saveur, and it's not on their site, and it was one of the most delicious oxtail preparations I've ever had. The ingredients look like this:

6 lbs oxtail

6 cups red wine

2 1/4 cups tawny port

3/4 cup cognac

2 ribs celery

2 carrots

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp juniper berries

2 bay leaves

3 sprigs thyme

salt and pepper

6 T peanut oil

1/3 cup flour

2 T olive oil

4 ripe tomatoes

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp brewed coffee

How's that sound for the Leonetti? I also came across this recipe that I saved but have never tried herb roasted rack of lamb which might also make a good match, with the accompanying Roquefort bread pudding and a pile of roasted root veggies. Roquefort and oaky Cab?

Good idea on freezing the chanterelles, Eden. It's supposed to rain tonight, so maybe we'll be getting a better crop in a few days.

Edited by Abra (log)
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Thus, many of the canards about food and wine pairings no longer apply.

Is this a play on the Muscovy duck and duck confit references? :laugh::laugh::laugh:

I only wish I was that clever!

actually, were I really clever--I would not let my honesty--disrupt my reputation

for cleverness!

:wacko:

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Whew, I was afraid that recipe had gotten lost forever.  It was Saveur, and it's not on their site, and it was one of the most delicious oxtail preparations I've ever had.  The ingredients look like this:

6 lbs oxtail

6 cups red wine

2 1/4 cups tawny port

3/4 cup cognac

2 ribs celery

2 carrots

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp juniper berries

2 bay leaves

3 sprigs thyme

salt and pepper

6 T peanut oil

1/3 cup flour

2 T olive oil

4 ripe tomatoes

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp brewed coffee

How's that sound for the Leonetti? I also came across this recipe that I saved but have never tried herb roasted rack of lamb which might also make a good match, with the accompanying Roquefort bread pudding and a pile of roasted root veggies.  Roquefort and oaky Cab?

Good idea on freezing the chanterelles, Eden.  It's supposed to rain tonight, so maybe we'll be getting a better crop in a few days.

The oxtail dish has some pretty bold flavors.

Though my favorite accompaniement to most lamb dishes is a Bordeaux with a bit of age

(ok-I am being "classic" here) I do think the lamb dish you note here would work with the Leonetti (and vice versa).

Also-Roquefort with red wine (I have a hard time imagining this) may be interesting given it is tempered in a bread pudding.

I really like the roast root vegetables --I can taste them with the Leonetti--definitely a winner.

Again--what you have with the Leonetti and the Kistler are two very distinct and heavy on the character and personality. The Kistler should have a distinctive yeasty note (similar to a fine champagne).

They both can have earthy and spicy notes--they definitely have oak flavors--and if from good vintages, they should have loads of fruit but with plenty of structure.

If I were your client (and boy don't I wish I were!) I would definitely have you taste all the wines before you created a menu. I would probably have you over for some simple snacks and we would taste the wines and discuss them so you would get a good idea of what I thought of them and you would be able to have a real nice context for the meal you will plan and execute.

Seems to me that would be more conducive to getting the most/fullest benefit of your talents!

More of my money's worth if you will.

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Boy, JohnL, I wish you were my client too! Tasting in advance is absolutely what to do, but in this case, I won't get to.

For the Kistler, I'll offer a couple of starter ideas I've been thinking about.

1) a tarte of salt cod puree - it's kind of a brandade de morue, but in a tarte incarnation, with a little tomato, on a crust.

2) A cream of cashew and Armagnac soup with something else, something crunchy

Would you want either of those with the Chard? Something completely different?

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