A Harmony of Flavors

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Making Good Wine and Food Pairings

I hope everyone is not tired of me writing about the Winefest Renaisasance! It was a lively evening, the first of what will hopefully be an annual event. All the proceeds benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Aberdeen; a worthy and noble cause.

The fact is that though I am still recuperating a bit from all the cooking and inventing of recipes last week, it was really fun and rewarding. I found that making up recipes from scratch is not as hard as I once thought. I found that while I knew in past I had made some really great wine and food pairings, this is the first time they were served to the public. Serving to family members is one thing. Being family they are more forgiving. I had not dealt much with public. Last year I did appetizer foods for a retirement party, which hosted a lot of people I didn't know, but the venue was familiar, and family and friends were involved. This Winefest was really public in all senses. It was well received, for which I am grateful. Many of the foods were praised repeatedly and for that I am not only grateful, but relieved and fulfilled. I am so grateful for my talents and the ability to give people a pleasurable experience.

Wine tasting is an interesting experience. There are so many styles of wine and so many grape varieties. One vintner's style with a grape can be so far different from anothers as to be unrecognizeable. Some wines go best with food. Some are teriffic all by themselves. Some can go either way. The thing is to have an open mind. Don't blacklist a grape on the basis of one wine. Try others, try it with food. My goal for this Winefest Renaissance was to instruct people to taste the wine first. Take some time examining what flavors and aromas are present. What does one like or dislike about the wine. Is it enjoyable?

Once that part is done with, try the wine with food. Obviously not just any food will be a good match for any wine. That is where my talents came into play. I have tasted a lot of wines in the course of the last 25 years. I have had ample opportunity to taste wines with various foods and develop a sense of the flavors of each, and how they harmonize. The common phrase is "wine and cheese", yet not just any cheese will pair with just any wine. Knowing what works best together and presenting these flavors to the public was my part of this event. I tried to present each wine in the very best light, creating the foods that would pair best and bring out the best flavor of both the wine and the food. There were many people who commented that the wine alone was not one they would really like to sit around and sip. With the food, however, it was just wonderful. And that was the whole point.

Fig, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Tarts 
I created a sheet with different wine grape varieties that cross referenced the foods and flavors that go best with each wine. It is easy, though time consuming at first, to go online and research. Look at any site that talks about a Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, and see what food pairings are recommended. Being a bold wine, Cabernet pairs well with bold flavors. I researched recommendations for about 20 kinds of wine in order to put this sheet together. When I contemplated creating recipes to go with the 6 wines I chose, I used that list. I went down the column of choices and selected items that sounded like a good combination for a recipe. In the case of the Cabernet Sauvignon, I chose beef, walnuts, rosemary and gorgonzola cheese. These flavors were perfect with the wine.

Asparagus, Pine Nut & Goat Cheese Tarts
For the Pinot Noir, I chose figs, mushrooms, and goat cheese from the list and created little tarts by first sauteeing the mushrooms; the figs were soaked in Sherry and drained and added to the mushrooms. With the addition of crumbled goat cheese and placed into mini pie pastries, these flavors went perfectly with the wine.

For the Sauvignon Blanc I chose asparagus, pine nuts and goat cheese and used them to make little tats on puff Pastry. Each appetizer pairing was well planned so the flavors would bring out the best qualities in the wines. Take time to research when serving foods and wines. Obviously, one cannot always have every person tasting the exact wine to go with the exact food. When showcasing a wine though, it is worth the time and effort.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.