It’s always a thrill when you find that perfect pairing.
It happened this weekend when having a casual dinner with friends who had just returned from southern France. We nibbled on tomato salad, fennel salami, lentils and green beans, and a special treat, duck breast rolled with foie gras (smuggled back in their suitcase).
After depleting the first bottle, I then served a rather unusual sparkling red: Rocchi San Ginesio Vernaccia Nera Secco—a sparkling red from the Marche region of Italy. Yes, a sparkling red made in the exact same way as Prosecco but with the red grape variety of Vernaccia Nera.
On its own, it had a wild profile, and brimmed with overlapping notes of ripe blackberries, violets and spiciness (of the black pepper sort), but when tasted along with both the fennel salami, it reached new heights. In fact, the salami even became creamier as a result of the pairing… and the duck worked beautifully. Not only did the darker flavors mesh with the salami and duck breast, but the bubbles just added that extra something and cleansed the palate between bites at the same time. To put it simply, the sum was greater than the parts.
There are others like this wine that make excellent matches to charcuterie and meat-based antipasti dishes. The most famous by far is Lambrusco from Emilia-Romagna (not coincidentally considered the ‘stomach’ of Italy for its charcuterie) which is currently enjoying a sort of renaissance in premium restaurants, but such varieties Malbec, Barbera and Shiraz can also be found. If you see one in your favorite wine store, I highly recommend trying this at home.
See the original article on my new blog, savvydrinker.com. Saluté!
Reds That Sparkle ...
- Reply by EMark, Aug 11, 2012.
I've enjoyed sparkling reds with Thanksgiving dinner.
For non-U.S. readers the traditional Thanksgiving meal is a pretty big feast centered, usually, around roast turkey, although ham is often also served. Side dishes are usually quite rich--e.g., turkey stuffing (created according to each family's tradition), mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce, candied yams.
- Reply by JonDerry, Aug 11, 2012.
Nice story Danika, and that sounds like a solid thanksgiving dinner pairing Mark, especially considering the company and overall heaviness of a day like thanksgiving.
I definitely try to choose carefully what will be served around the holidays, treating them as not only big events but also markers for where you are with wine and what you'll remember in the future. Though looking back, the last couple years have disappointed overall, I guess there are just some palates that are hard to please.
- Reply by outthere, Aug 11, 2012.
I just opened a 2007 Graton Ridge Pinot that sparkled but wasn't supposed to. Drain cleaner now.
- Reply by Lindy Hemsley, Aug 13, 2012.
Having not drunk sparkling red since the Lambrusco phase of years ago, I gave Australia's Brown Brothers Cienna Rosso a try at the weekend. As it is only 7.5% alcohol I thought it might be nice summer afternoon drinking, but did not expect much from it. It is a delicious burst of sweet cherry/mulberry fruit, really intense fruit flavour. This is exactly how I always hope that kir royale will taste but find that it never quite does. Reviewers recommend it as divine with choc-dipped strawberries. Not having a sweet tooth, I am looking forward to using it as a low-alcohol ease-in with a platter heading into a long summer night.
- Reply by Wendy Crispell, Aug 17, 2012.
Try a sparkling Shiraz with a deep, dark chocolate dessert like a flourless torte topped with raspberry sauce, delish! Also very good with an aged, salty sheeps milk cheese and cherry jam.
- Reply by zufrieden, Aug 17, 2012.
A teenage birthday party (assuming that the star is of legal drinking age) could well do with a slightly off-dry red sparkler - especially if the centre of attention is female. However, you can always rely on a rose champagne for situations that require attention to savoir faire such as when preference is to colour. Colour need not detract, in other words.