Pair Up with La Sommelierre - March 2014
Fresh from the Garden
Every year, spring feels like a new beginning. Many people make New Year’s resolutions to eat more healthfully starting in January; I think spring is a more natural starting point. Here is a wonderful menu that takes advantage of fresh produce and offers wines to pair with them. Keep in mind that vegetables are notoriously difficult to pair with wine because they have bitter flavors. I chose a lightly sweet/floral white wine to offset the bitterness and a red wine lower in tannin, since tannin is the bitter component in a red wine.
Start with a salad of “less bitter” greens. Choose butter lettuce for its mild flavor, baby romaine for crunch, and young spinach for color. For added texture, include vegetables like mushrooms, green onion, and some diced Campari tomatoes (surprisingly good year-round). Top your salad with a dressing that is not too acidic, like the Tarragon Vinaigrette listed here. Pair with a white wine like Verdelho. Originally from Portugal, Verdelho is a white wine that reminds me of Pinot Grigio. It has soft citrus flavors accented by pretty floral notes. Quite a few wineries in California are choosing to make this wine in both a dry and lightly sweet style. Of course, if you can’t find a Verdelho, Pinot Gris/Grigio works in a pinch.
Next, we have salad’s quintessential partner, soup. Spring Vegetable Soup with Pesto has so many healthful ingredients; I feel healthier just reading the recipe! The good news is that it incorporates ingredients that soften the bitterness of the “green” ingredients and make it more wine friendly. The starchy richness of the beans and potatoes along with the sweetness imparted by the carrots and peas are helpful to a wine pairing. When choosing a partner for this soup, I immediately think of Italian grapes because of their naturally higher acids. Dolcetto comes to mind because it has relatively lower tannins than some of its brethren. Another low-tannin red is Pinot Noir.
For dessert, I wanted to share a recipe that I had as a child when visiting my grandmother who lived near the orange-growing capital of California, San Bernardino. This Fresh Orange Pie was so unique and delicious; I had to get the recipe from Edwards Mansion. It is possible to pair this dessert with an Orange Muscat wine, but perhaps sparkling water with orange slices would be a fresher ending to this deliciously fresh meal.
So, go on. Pair Up!
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