Welcome back, my friends!
Hope you’ve been enjoying our recent tasting adventures (Sicilian wine, homemade saffron pasta with scallops, 30-year-old Napa Cabernet) – and Monday’s intro to my underage Office Manager – as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them with you.
Today, for Wine Wednesday, we’re whipping up a quick, easy, and downright delicious weeknight dinner.
And we’ll see a perfect example of my Drink Wine With Dinner® “mission statement” – that wine can make the foods you love taste even better!
What’s more, it also shows that neither the food nor the wine has to be “fancy” or expensive for the meal to be memorable.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~So, why does even a simple matchup like this one work so well? Let’s bring in “Rosina’s 5 Non-Rules of Pairing Wine With Food” and find out. (Do you have your free copy yet? Click Here to download it, so you can follow along….)
With our very basic burgers, we’re pouring Pinot Noir. I’ve opened two different ones, for some extra mix-and-match fun, but you don’t need to. And in keeping with this “easygoing weeknight dinner” menu, both were on sale for under $10.
Let’s look at the ingredients and cooking methods first (it’s too simple to call a “recipe”), then we’ll go step by step through my Pinot Noir pairing strategy.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~For the burgers, I started with 1 1/2 pounds of 80/20% ground beef for 6 patties, seasoned them with coarse sea salt and black pepper, and sautéed them in olive oil, in a very hot cast-iron pan, with some chopped onions alongside. I like my burgers ultra-rare, but of course, you can cook yours to whatever degree of doneness you prefer.
In another pan, with lots of chopped garlic, I sautéed some multi-colored carrots, snow peas, and spinach from my last farmers’ market haul. To make the veggies more wine-friendly, I added a tablespoon of bacon fat to the olive oil.)
The potatoes were Yukon Golds – earthy and naturally creamy-textured – cut small and braised until tender in a little chicken broth, then fork-mashed, with a dab of butter on top.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Now for the pairings. This is one of those great natural matchups where I can make a strong case for every one of “Rosina’s 5 Non-Rules of Pairing Wine With Food.”
1) GEOGRAPHY: “Burgundy with beef” is a classic, centuries-old pairing, and the primary red grape in France’s hallowed Burgundy region is Pinot Noir. Although “red Burgundies” rank among the most prized – and most pricey – wines in the world, it’s not hard to find value-priced Pinots of very decent quality from wine-growing regions the world over.
2) SIMILARITY: Pinot Noirs often show some lightly caramelized flavors, from the toasted barrels they’re aged in. These match up nicely with the sear on the burgers and onions, and the smokiness of the bacon. Moreover, many Pinots have meaty characteristics themselves that “mirror” the beef directly. And the wine tends to be earthy, which ties in nicely with the potatoes.
3) CONTRAST: Pinot Noir is the most acidic of all the well-known red varietals, which makes it a great candidate for pairing with rich, fatty foods. (Here, the two partners are chosen to be deliberately different, in a way that improves at least one of them.)
4) EQUAL STRENGTH: Pinot Noir is a lighter-bodied wine, with subtler flavors than, for instance, the Cabernet/Merlot-based reds of Bordeaux or the big, brawny Rhone reds where Syrah predominates. So it’s natural, given that beef is inherently lighter in flavor than, say, lamb or game meats, that Burgundy has long been the wine of choice for beef.
5) PERSONAL PREFERENCE: It’s also no accident here that Pinot also happens to be my favorite red wine, so even if the first four “Non-Rules” weren’t in play, this one could still work for me!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~See how easy it is to put together a simple pairing? In fact, when I taught the “Food and Wine Affinities” course at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, my students learned this five-step system on Day 1 – then by Day 5 of the week-long course, they were using it to concoct incredibly creative restaurant-level recipes, while explaining every step in minute detail.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~That gives me an idea, since I’m still in touch with quite a few of my former CCA students – many of whom have risen to the very top echelons of the world of wine and food.
They’re now restaurateurs, winery owners, cookbook authors, newspaper and magazine writers/editors, food-and-wine entrepreneurs of all sorts – even a Chopped champion and star of Food Network and Cooking Channel shows).
I’ll reach out to them with invitations to guest blog, here at Drink Wine With Dinner®, so that you can meet some of these talented people – and share in their amazing success stories!
Until next time, my friends,
Cheers and happy tastings,
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