Crayères conversation with some awesome pictures last week from Michael Markarian, Jeremy Eubanks, Todd Chinnock, Robert Gomez, and inderpal singh.
This week: Food pairing with sweet wines
What are the general guidelines to utilizing sweet wines in a pairing? What is the latest killer pairing with sweet wine that you've had?
One of the best I've ever had was at Osteria Francescana, where Sauternes was paired with risotto halfway through an eight course menu. The next course was matched with a light cocktail to help readjust our palates.
As a general rule, the wine must be sweeter than the dish. Otherwise, it will seem that you ordered a coca cola, and received a diet instead. One of my recent favorites was a flourless chocolate torte topped with brandied cherries along side 1986 Bodedas Toro Albala Pedro Ximenez Gran Reserva. Magical!
For spicy foods, sweeter wines with low alcohol can be used to cut down on the spiciness of a dish (think spicy Thai food with off-dry Riesling). Sweeter wines can also be used to complement the saltiness and fat/richness (think cheese) or match the sweetness of a course (think Asian sauces with sugar or honey).
For dessert wines, one of my favorite pairings recently was the Donnafugata Ben Rye Passito di Pantelleria with a pear tart and caramel sauce. Also loved the Quady Elysium Black Muscat with raspberry cheesecake, and the A. Margaine Demi-Sec with Champagne panna cotta.
General rule of thumb is the wine should be at least as sweet as the dessert. I really enjoy Rare Wine Boston Bual with our chocolate creme brûlée and also love Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos with our fresh lemony baked yogurt dessert!
Michael killed it! Sweet goes with so many things besides sweet dessert!
My favorite was a Mosel auslese with the Szechuan peppers at Lionhead in Seattle. Frankly, the tactile sensation of the peppers really freaked me out and I thought I was being drugged, but the sweet, familiar Riesling comforted me through the experience.
A lightbulb moment for me happened with some really sharp local cheddar and Tuscan Vin Santo at a tasting. I didn’t fully understand the sweet/salt/fat combo, and was able to comprehend food in general better after stripping it down with that wine and cheese.
I'll put this out there for thought:I am right behind Michael in the belief that a wondrous amount of food beyond dessert pair well with sweet wines but often forgotten, perhaps because I am always looking to see it mentioned, are the wines of Tokaji and how they elevate Eastern European cuisine.Notably known to be denser as a diet, Eastern European foods are remarkable pairings with Tokaji due to the fattiness and rich textures contained in many meals. The Furmint communicates its bracing acidity with Harslevelu singing in the background as they seek to accentuate dishes sauced with a poloniase or something similarly. Keeping in mind that Tokaji gained a great portion of its fame during a time in the world where sugar was not as easily available, it's easy to imagine how local cuisine was ready to incorporate this wine into its diet!(A farmer's cheese pierogi, fried in butter and served with a late harvest Tokaji is a remarkable experience and one I readily prepare for friends!)
What was the cocktail?
all Thai food is not the same just like Indian food. I dont think one type of one will fit all. Thai food with coc0nut fish base sauce might be better with manzanilla sherry, I work and pair wine with Indian food. I never pair spicy lamb dish with a Riesling. when you think about oriental food. you have to break the rules. not follow a European style of Pairing. you have to understand the ingredients that go into the sauce.
I don't remember specifically. Something floral and spritzy!
You can run sweet wine with any course in my opinion. Starting off with a cheese plate with fig and apricot jams, blue cheese and moscato d'asti is incredible. With dessert you typically want the wine to be sweeter than the food. Sweet wines can also help balance spicy dishes. With auslese riesling I love pairing with spicy thai food. I also ran a pairing the other day with a fruity pebble layered cream cake paired with hopler TBA. It was killer!
Generally speaking, find the sweet spot, pun intended between heat and sweet keeping in mind viscosity for balance. Ask the sweetness and viscosity for a dance with the savory, smokey, earthy side. I am thinking of a Sauternes as a tango partner with some smoked domestic blue or cave aged bleu, My approach with dessert is to allow the dish to be a bit sweeter than the wine.
What was in the risotto?
That is such a weird sensation. I first had it in Australia at Spice Temple where they cook fish gently in oil with the peppercorns. By the end of the dish I couldn't taste much of anything for about 10 minutes!
Also don’t fully remember - but it was vegetarian. Remind me to tell you this full story - it was a wonderfully bizarre day.