Snooth Blog

Snooth User: D9sus4

Botrytis Wine Pairing

Posted by D9sus4, Jan 7, 2012.

I'm planning a wine tasting of Botrytis wines and would like some non- sweet pairing suggestions. There was a post about a year ago on Tokaji pairing that had a few good ideas, such as, blue cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and foie gras. I'm looking for more of those types of suggestions from some of the foodie Snooths.



Reply by dmcker, Jan 7, 2012.

Whether a tokaji or sauternes or..., you're looking to play on the acid that comes through, also, I suppose, the weight of the wine. Buttery/creamy and salty are good counterpoints, though perhaps not the only ones.

Definitely would go for at least a couple varieties of the blue-cheese type (roquefort, stilton, gorgonzola, cabrales, fourme d'ambert or even Danish blue), preferably from different types of animals. Had some fourme d'ambert on ripe pear slices with a sauternes at the beginning of the week that was a perfect combination. Walnuts and gorgonzola and persimmon slices also work for me. Alternatively, ever done a roquefort terrine?

Foie gras, again as you mention, which I sometimes pair with small bits of mango if I'm having in a salad with champagne, I'd do straight up terrine slices, or sauteed just with fresh rosemary, however you could also go sweeter sauteed with caramelized apples and onions, or with some stewed dried figs.

If you want to go savory rather than dessert, and besides the above, I'm thinking oily meats like maybe a well-roasted-and-basted chicken or duck or quail (maybe with sweet potatoes and leeks and parsnips roasted in their drippings), or yakitori (chicken thigh, chicken liver, negi/leek, shiitake, etc.) skewers, all with the right sauce (not excesssive soy sauce for the yakitori, but also not just salt which is a common alternative), or perhaps even a Mexican carne asadish dish with a mole sauce that isn't overly sweet and chocolatey but might even prick the taste buds a bit with something like anise. Or sauteed pork tenderloin medallions in a cream and marinated apricot (or prune) sauce. Even some creamy ham dish. And of course you could use a gorgonzola sauce for the poultry or pork. In every case the sauce will be more critical than the meat itself (though I'm thinking the choice of the meat should be something sweeter, like pork, too), and it seems like some sweetness in the sauce would help. I can even imagine some lobster or other crustacean tidbits with lemon and butter and brine where the wine really pulls the sweetness of the fish to the fore.

These, however, can be curveball matches and need some testing ahead-of-time to get the sauces, and matching effect right, depending on who you're fixing this all for. I've had some offbeat matches that some people thought would be great that have fallen flat (the first to pop to mind is sweet and sour pork where the sweetness of the dish was enough to somehow cancel that in the barsac, and the vinegar and soysauce then just ravaged the wine).

What wines are you going to serve? Factors that affect the above choices include the varietal and degree of sweetness of the wines. So what level of tokaji? Beeren or Trocken Beeren auslese from riesling? Which sauternes (different house styles)? Other areas?

Oh, and I hope you're not thinking chocolate.  ;-)

Anyway, sounds like an interesting event, and will look forward to hearing how it goes....

Reply by GregT, Jan 7, 2012.

I would pretty much never pair a botrytized wine with sweet foods, or at least a sweet botrytized wine.  Dry ones are different but I probably wouldn't pair a dry one with sweet food either.

Seems obvious but it depends on the sugar and acid levels. The best of those wines have higher than normal sugar and acid, but not all. Sometimes you get more of one than the other.

An Auslese for example, may have very little botrytis and if it's fermented relatively dry, you can pair that with a lot - pork, duck, ham - I've done all of those.  Baked smoked ham is kind of nice, pork chops in apples and onions and herbs, etc.  You can get partly botrytized wines from Hungary and France too - and I'd treat those similarly.

More heavily botritized sweet wines, like some from Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Loire and Bordeaux, will be heavier in the mouth due to the additional sugar. The Tokaji-aszu wines from Hungary have crazy sugar and acidity levels so they're really interesting - foie gras is the obvious pairing as is any very strong, salty cheese.  Smoked duck or goose breast is great. I kind of like those with birds.  Some sausages, but I'd avoid something really spicy.  Roasted nuts work too. 

Same for most of the others - those are the common pairings for the sweet botrytized wines.  Dry ones are different - I would treat those like an oloroso sherry, which they resemble.

Reply by D9sus4, Jan 7, 2012.

Dmcker, thanks for the great suggestions. Sorry I forgot to mention that I would be pouring sweet, not dry, wines, hence the desire for non-sweet food suggestions. Yakitori is a great idea, and a chicken in red mole (not sweet at all) could also be good. I guess I should have mentioned that I was thinking appetizers more than main dishes. Cabrales and roquefort definitely are on my list, no chocolate. I haven't picked the wines yet.

GregT, thanks for the smoked meats idea. I'm thinking maybe a smoked trout? As for the nuts idea, I have a great recipe for savory almonds with rosemary and cumin that I picked up when I visited Duckhorn last year. Thanks for reminding me.

Reply by dmcker, Jan 8, 2012.

I also wasn't entirely clear, and l was meaning not sitdown bigportion feasting but something that could be served in small portions, finger-food or otherwise, since I somehow assumed that was more suitable to your event. The chicken or pork or ham or whatever could certainly be presented that way. I might even consider warm corn tortillas to wrap the pork (even more than chicken) in the mole sauce. Don't underestimate the fun of a gorgonzolla terrine, either. Going with Greg's idea of sausages, I think a good (operative word; there's so much crappy stuff out there) chorizo might also work.

Think the smoking on the trout should be strong. The wine matching is also a texture thing, and a heavy sticky white could overpower a lightly flaky trout...

Reply by duncan 906, Jan 8, 2012.

My sister and I both like Sauternes and similar botrytis wines like Jurancon,Loupiac and Graves Superieure.She will drink it with anything.This Christmas she was drinking a 1970's Sauternes through the entire meal.Sauternes is often described as a desert wine so I would happily serve it with the desert.I have had it with blue cheese and that did work well.I once had a 'menu gastronomique' on a trip to France where the hotel served a glass of a different wine with each of about six  courses and Sauternes was served with the first course of fried liver.

Reply by GregT, Jan 8, 2012.

I guess D was posting while I was writing because somehow I missed his post or wouldn't have repeated his suggestions!

The problem with smoked trout is that trout is a very delicate fish.  Any fresh-water fish is going to be a bit delicate - I'd just pour a really nice dry white with that!  In addition to what D said, personally I'm not a fan of sweetness with fish.  Works with game and red meats and birds, but fruit and fish isn't something I'm wildly fond of.

Reply by D9sus4, Jan 8, 2012.

GregT, I don't like fish with fruit either, but I do think a well smoked trout, or possibly salmon, might counter-balance the sweet wines. My concern here is with allowing the participants a chance to taste the wines without distracting their taste buds.

I like your idea of smoked meats, and I am just contemplating alternatives to the usual smoked sausages, etc. I did buy a locally made, and smoked, pork liver pate today that I'm anxious to audition for the wine tasting. 

Thanks again to all for your great suggestions! 

Reply by dmcker, Jan 9, 2012.

Sea trout, rather than upriver or lake (and certainly not farmed) trout, perhaps. Smoked salmon--especially eskimo or Japanese Hokkaido (Ainu) style (drier/harder/redder) would be a better bet, rather than gravlax-ish. That also works well and conveniently blended with good cream cheese into a spread. But I, too, don't usually want fruit with my fish unless we're in Central America or SoutheastAsia and we're talking lime and mango salsa on the right kind of seagoing fish, whether grilled or sauteed or better yet somewhere between pan and deepfried. In that event, don't think I'd choose a sauternes with it, anyway. ;-)

Best smoked fish I've ever had was seabass in Geneva (!), which is obviously a more river and lake context. Perfect with a Domaine de Chevalier sauvignonblanc/semillon white from Graves. Tried to duplicate it a few times: one failure, one middling and two close, but never quite made it. Wouldn't consider a sticky with it, tho.

So we're back to the smoked/roasted/cured meats, I guess, in creative combinations with fruits and cheeses. Some people think walnuts kill their tastebuds for wine, but I don't seem to have that problem. So walnuts or sliced almonds or.... If you're a pecan freak (I'm not), then maybe. don't see peanuts or brazil nuts or even cashews and pistachios (unless the last two were paired with raisins, South Asian style). Maybe hazel nuts or macadamias baked into or around something could also work.

And Greg, I viewed your post as good validation. Like minds...


Reply by JonDerry, Jan 9, 2012.

Real good suggestion guys, this is interesting stuff as i've never really contemplated what to serve with sweet wines. I admit to drinking them with coffee and dessert since they're usually had after a meal. Though sometimes cheese is for dessert and that tends to work better than other sweeter options.

Reply by Giacomo Pevere, Jan 9, 2012.

I agree Dmcker suggestions, blue cheese and Foie Gras are both great options for a bortytis wine.

I suggest u an amazing recipe for botrytis - foie gras pairing. U need just a good piece of foie gras, a bottle of botrytis wine, sugar cane and some peaches (ok! is not summer...).

Pour into a pan some wine (a glass more or less) and some cane sugar and let it dissolve, then put peach slices and cook for few minutes. In a different pan roast the foie gras slice on both sides then, when is well roasted, move it to the other pan (with wine sauce and peach) let it slowly cook for few minutes then enjoy it!

Reply by amour, Feb 14, 2013.

Quiche...of onions and mushrooms, crumbled blue cheese not too strong cheese,,,,not too mature......believe it or not!

With Sauternes!!!

Reply by duncan 906, Feb 14, 2013.

Amour Quiche is a good idea.I never thought of that;have to try it sometime

Reply by amour, Feb 18, 2013.

I guess because I am into French Gastronomy and into French sweet whites and Noble Rot,

I collected an abundance of great pairing ideas over the years.

Here is yet another, for those serious about pairing!

This was given to me by a great Chef in England, Rick Stein.

I ate at his excellent Cornwall Restaurant many times.

There we go:  4 fillets John Dory or your favourite small fish...about  6 ounces each,

                           best quality butter, salt, pepper, good fish stock 1/2 pint

                           2 ounces SAUTERNES OR MONBAZILLAC OR MUSCAT de Beaumes de Venis

                           3 ounces Double Cream

                           10 Basil leaves

Method:              Butter tray, place fillets,skin side down, butter and season, grill lightly for 8 minutes.  (Do not over grill......thichness of fish, weight, and size must be closely condidered.  If thin fillets are may require less grilling.  You could use a hot oven alternatively.  Or sautee fish fillets in olive oil for 3 minutes on either side.)

                             Place stock and wine in pan, reduce by 3/4, add double cream, boil rapidly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon(about 2 minutes).  Add Basil. Drizzle sauce on fish. Return to grill briefly.  Serve with a glass of French Sweet Wine, the same one used in the sauce, and a hot white buttered baguette!  Enjoy!


Reply by EMark, Feb 18, 2013.

Several years ago I read in the local newspaper about a local individual who wanted to show off collection of d'Yquem.  He asked multiple local chefs to prepare a multi-course dinner in which each course was matched different vintage of the collector's d'Yquem.

I really do not remember much else other than that the main course was lobster.  I've never tried this, but I have thought about it for years, and I am beginning to talk myself into the lobster/Sauternes pairing.  

Reply by amour, Feb 18, 2013.

EMARK, sounds interesting...I am getting very hungry.....What is your best bet....vintage champagne or non-vintage??

I am thinking non-vintage and lobster!...Yes?

But Sauternes....thinking -out-of-the-box...and loving it!!!!!

Let us get ideas moving on this one: Sauternes and Lobster and see how it goes!!!!  We can actually try some options!

If chocolate, sea salt, caramel is a good fit...why not Lobster and Sauternes!!!!!

Reply by amour, Feb 18, 2013.

Actually, Chateau Coutet/Barsac/France paired 3 vintages of their lovely Barsac wine with Lobster Salad; results were stunning indeed!

(Barsac is a sub-region of Sauternes and the wines are more edgy and mineral focused, than Sauternes.)

By the way, I have served Sweedish Meatballs and Sauternes....wonderful!

Reply by EMark, Feb 18, 2013.

In the context of the subject of botysized wines, Amour, I'm not sure I understand the question.   

But I probably don't really have to understand to give an honest answer.

I'm afraid that I am not very discriminating when it comes to Champagne or any sparkling wine.  Other than levels of sweetness, I find that they all, pretty much, taste the same--vintage, non-vintage, French, Spanish, Italian, California.  For what it's worth, if I do have a preference, it is for ones that have completely undetectable sugar.  The good news, here, is that I am just as happy with a Korbel Natural as I might be with a Taittinger Comtes de Champagne.  I suspect that the reason for my non-discriminating palate is the fact that I rarely drink it--2 or 3 times a year is about it for us.  I agree, it does set a festive mood, and I like that, a lot.  Also, my feeling is one of the best matches for the traditional Thanksgiving turkey meal is red sparkling wine, but Pinot Noir is much, much easier to find.

Reply by amour, Feb 18, 2013.

Sorry that you did not really get it!!!

Usually Lobster pairs with Champagne....what I am saying, is that I am happy to think out side of the box, and go with Sauternes!!!!!

By the way, wealthy friends of mine drink Korbel!

Reply by amour, Mar 6, 2013.

More ( perhaps novel) pairing ideas for Sauternes/ Noble Rot: Smoked Mackerel Pate, and Thai dishes

Back to Categories

Popular Topics

Top Contributors This Month

847804 Snooth User: EMark
32 posts
127503 Snooth User: rckr1951
30 posts
324443 Snooth User: outthere
12 posts


View All

Snooth Media Network