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Pairing Pinot

Posted by guest, Jul 2, 2008.

I thought I would follow the trends in some of the recent blog posts here on Snooth to talk about pairing food and wine. But first, a couple of apologies before I begin. First for not sharing this sooner with all of you and not ordering you to visit the website of fellow guest blogger, Kirstin Jackson, author of Vin de la Table . Vin de la Table is home to one of the most delicious subtitles in the blogosphere - Ambrosial Adventures in Wine and Food Pairing. If there is a chef's table in heaven, I imagine each meal crescends with Ambrosia and a glass of d'Yquem.

A little over a month ago, I sent Kirstin an e-mail asking for her advice on what I should pair with Pinot Noir. My tasting group had decided to taste 2006 Pinots that were made by the hands and palates of those in the group. Being one of a couple in the group who is not making Pinot, I was partly responsible for some food stuffs to enjoy at the tasting. Our tastings are typically accompanied by a platter of local meats and cheeses. I was hoping to break the pattern with some more substantial victuals, so I reached out to Kirstin who wrote back with the zeal of a gastronomical prophet, owner of an enlightened sense of eating and drinking. Her suggestions below.

But first, my second apology. With the Nation's holiday two days away, it would have been worthwhile to make 4th of July BBQ pairings a post. However, there are some moments when wine just doesn't work. And the 4th of July BBQ is one of them (add the Memorial Day BBQ and the Labor Day fete). While I am at it, let's say that wine and sporting events don't work either. Sometimes you have to look that label in the face and just say, no. Go on, disagree all you Cabernet and Hamburger converts, you Zinfandel and Ribs lovers. Change my public opinion, I welcome it.

Without further ado. Pairing Pinot... My notes are in brackets after successfuly attempting these pairings at the tasting and at home.

"Sautee 'wild' mushrooms with butter, parsley, salt and pepper, and a little finely chopped shallot or garlic. Place on top of a crostin - a rustic baguette toasted with olive oil, salt and pepper. Risotto with Truffle oil. Blanched fennel with brown butter and parmesan. Wild rice with mushrooms or mushroom, risotto balls. [Pinot Noir has the ability to take on, as the French say, les gouts de terroir, the tastes of the earth. Mushrooms are regularly described as a flavor profile for Pinot. These above are classic aperitif pairings and more.]

[Local plug] If you are near the Oxbow Market or Fatted Calf Charcuterie , any of their pates would be perfect with Pinot. [An acidic wine will help elevate the palate pairing with flavorful and texture driven pates. White wine or sweet wines are common pairings, but the acidity in Pinot will work wonders as well.]

Cheeses: Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk (triple cream, cow's milk), Cypress Grove Fresh Chevre (goat), a Gruyere or Comte (cow). [Kirstin breaks the wine and cheese pairing rule by offering a goat's milk cheese, the Chevre, which can have an acidic/tart bend that doesn't play well with Pinot. Try it yourself. The answer always lies in the mouth of the beholder.]

Meats: Roast chicken, roast pork loin, carnitas (swear!). Seared duck breast or Peking duck, Prosiutto. [The one pairing I have yet to try is the Carnitas. But because of Kirstin's emphasis, I will, promise!]

Let me know if you'd like any other ideas. I'm glad you asked!"

I am glad I asked too. I hope you all enjoy these options and report back when you have.

Happy Fourth of July.

Dan Petroski is Assistant Winemaker at Larkmead Vineyards in Napa Valley. Dan has an MBA from New York University and worked as an Ad Exec in New York for several years, before switching it up and trading his suit for a move out west.


Reply by Kirstin, Jul 2, 2008.

What a nice post, Dan! I'm glad that my long list of suggestions hit a soft spot, rather than feeling like culinary assault! I, ah... tend to over do things. Can't wait to hear your feedback on the carnitas. Of course, any red and carnitas will do because, oh my god, you're eating carnitas, but a fruity Cali Pinot sounds awfully dreamy right about now with that crispy, lush pork meat. Maybe hold the gauc and spicy salsa for the first bite?

For anyone else, I'm always open to wine and food pairing questions or comments on my blog.

Thanks for the shout out Dan. I really enjoy your writing, so a pat on the back from you is a pretty nice complement.

Reply by Mark Angelillo, Jul 2, 2008.

I hadn't even considered drinking wine on the 4th. Maybe I'll give it some thought, but I think I'm going to have to agree with Dan here -- you'll probably find me with a selection of fine pilsners, lagers and ales in my hand all day.

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