Food & Wine Pairing Winner…and other stuff, of course…


Hey everyone, thanks for participating in the Food & Wine Pairing contest the other day.  I really did appreciate all of you who gave it your best shot with some pretty tasty combinations.

Luckily I was off the hook in having to pick a winner (that would have been hard).  Author Natalie MacLean had to do all the work!  Thanks Natalie!

Here is the letter she sent me yesterday with her thoughts and the winning pairing:

Hands-down, Noble Pig readers reign when it comes to food-and-wine matching.  There were so many intuitively great combos that I can’t wait to try.  I sighed when I read Rayrena’s evocation of an Italian gentleman drinking champagne.  I laughed when I read Melissa’s suggestion that the best pairing for a glass of wine is another glass of wine.  In the end, I gravitated toward the funky and weird but plausible.  Runners up included Cheryl’s dark chocolate M&M’s with syrah and Erinn’s strawberries dipped in peanut butter with shiraz.  (These sound as though you’re using whatever’s in the fridge at midnight.)

The Winner:  Cathy (not Noble Pig Cathy but another Cathy) from Where’s My Damn Answer suggested Carmelized-Banana Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting and port.  This is a woman who knows how to layer her vices deliciously!

Cheers,

Natalie

Congratulations Cathy, I’ll have to admit I swooned when I thought about that combo, it sounds delicious.  Send me an email with your address to claim your fabulous prize!  I think you’re famous now.

And if you all haven’t gone over to Natalie’s site to try out her food and wine matching guide go try it now.  It’s my new favorite toy on the internet.

Again thank you for playing!

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Now I would like to direct your attention to one of my favorite sites, the Food And Wine Blog written by one of the nicest guys in the blogosphere, Michael.  He is a medical researcher working on his PhD in physiology (yes, he’s nice and smart, I like that) who loves to cook and write about wine.  He does great restaurant reviews from Baltimore, where he lives and just has an overall interesting site.

Well yesterday, Michael posted the sincerest form of flattery.  Remember those scallops I made the other day?  Well Michael created a whole video recipe making my scallops, LIVE, from his kitchen.  Let me tell you it is adorable.  He has a friend, Carlos, playing background guitar and his girlfriend Kim working the camera as he cooks away.  I’m telling you, I think he might beat me to a TV Food Network Show; I am insanely jealous.  But really go check it out, I’m not sure I could do it.  Thanks again Michael, I loved it.  LOVED IT!

Another amazing blogger Lori, from Luscious Food, also made the scallops on her site too. Go take a peek!  Her and her hubby cook up some amazing meals in their tiny Manhattan kitchen. 

I’m feeling the love people, I really am!

So if anyone is still reading this and hasn’t jumped ship to go see the Carmelized-Banana Brownies, or Natalie’s food and wine matching guide or Michael’s and Lori’s blog, then let’s go over some really basic food and wine pairing rules/suggestions since this is probably the most requested daily topic to hit my inbox.

For me, I have about Five Basic Rules for Matching Food with Wine.  This however does not include the rule that the best wine to pair with your food is the wine you enjoy most.  You have to please yourself first.

1.  Always try to pair comparable heaviness and body of food and wine.  The weight and body of the food should match that of the wine.

2.  Acidity levels should be consistent.  A high acid dish should be paired with a high acid wine and vice versa.

3.  Flavor and nuances should balance each other.  Don’t put your food into the boxing ring with your wine.  This is often the most difficult part of pairing.  It requires creating a food and wine synergy where the varying aromas and textures of the food work together and create newer, brighter flavors.  It’s like adding a seasoning to your dish that helps bring out it’s flavors.

4.  If your dish has a bold flavor or spice, that is what you should pair your wine to.  Is your dish lemony, peppery or fruity?  That’s where you need to concentrate your wine-pairing.

5.  If you find your dish does not have a bold flavor or spice, pair the wine to the main ingredient or flavors of the dish.  For example, if it’s steak, pair to the steak.  If it was pepper steak, pair to the pepper. 

I want to also give a few examples of light, medium and full bodied wines and foods.  However, certain varietals can be made in different styles where they can fit into several different categories, that’s just something you have to figure out along the way.  I hope this helps.

Light-bodied Wines & Foods

(white wines and foods)
Chablis
Sauvignon Blanc (can be medium-bodied too)
Pinot Gris/Grigio
Pinot Blanc

Oysters
Clams
Sole

(red wines and foods)
Chianti
Barbera
Pinot Noir (can be medium-bodied too)
Beaujolais

Salmon
Duck
Roasted Chicken

Medium-Bodied Wines & Foods

(white wines and foods)
Chardonnay (can be full-bodied too)
Gewurztraminer
Sauvignon Blanc (can be light-bodied too)
Sancerre

Scallops
Shrimp
Trout

(red wines and foods)
Cabernet Sauvignon (can be full-bodied too)
Zinfandel (can be full-bodied too)
Merlot (can be full-bodied too)
Syrah/Shiraz (can be full-bodied too)
Pinot Noir (can be light-bodied too)
Rioja Reserva

Pork
Veal
Pheasant

Full-Bodied Wines and Foods

(white wines and food)
Chardonnay (can be medium-bodied too)
Viognier

Salmon
Lobster
Tuna
Roasted Chicken

(red wines and food)
Cabernet Sauvignon (can be medium-bodied too)
Barolo
Merlot (can be medium-bodied too)
Zinfandel (can be medium-bodied too)
Syrah/Shiraz (can be medium-bodied too)
Barbaresco

Lamb
Steak
Wild Game

Remember, this should not be stressful, but fun.  Try everything and especially try new varietals, you just might be surprised what you find!

Post a Comment

40 Comments

  1. HoneyB 1

    My new goal is to have Grumpy and I start pairing wine with food and try it out. We are far from being wine connoisseurs but with your help – will at least have a little bit of knowledge of what to do! I’m on my way to the store today to buy a few bottles and get started with some of your suggestions!

    Reply
  2. Barbie with a T 2

    Thank you, Thank you, and Congratulations on the success of your scallop recipe! That recipe is one of the best I have ever tried. You are really considering your readers when you provide us with such interesting links and blogs out there, too. Anything wine and food is appreciated.

    Reply
  3. Thanks for the tips!
    I am never sure how to act like I know what I’m doing. Now I can at least fake it! (with a gracious smile)

    Reply
  4. Chou 4

    Congratulations on hosting a successful contest AND on the loving homage. So fun.

    Reply
  5. Leslie 5

    Congrats to Cathy!

    Reply
  6. Erinn 6

    Cathy,
    I love that I can turn to your blog for a bit of wine knowledge! It’s clear you love the stuff and sharing it with all of us.
    Merci and Salut!

    Reply
  7. Great contest Cathy! I’m off to watch the video and check out the other pairings!

    Reply
  8. Congrats to Cathy…the brownies sound delicious!!!

    Wow you really are getting some love, and why not…you are all sorts of awesome! Thanks for the tips…they are very much needed in my little spot on this world.

    Reply
  9. Barbie with a T 9

    Thanks for the link to Michael’s website and the video. Frankly, I found it easier to follow your photos and instructions than the video. Your presentation is like having a recipe book right in front of me where I can check the ingredients a dozen times and follow each step and picture as I prepare the dish. Keep those food and wine parings coming!

    Reply
  10. Barbie with a T 10

    I meant to say “wine pairings”.

    Reply
  11. Yum! Now I want to go eat.

    Reply
  12. OH I would so watch a TV cooking show starring The Noble Pig author Cathy, and her weird wonderful world! :o)

    Reply
  13. Good info! I’ve just recently decided to like wine, so this was very helpful to me.

    Reply
  14. Hey! I know the winner of the pairing – woohoo – guess we’ll have to celebrate when all the girls of WMDA get together – haha

    The video was fun to watch 😀

    In the list of wine pairing suggestions, I don’t see Chianti on the list. That’s my favorite … what the heck am I “supposed” to pair it with (because we both know I pair it with things I probably shouldn’t ;-)).

    Reply
  15. Mike 15

    Sorry I’d missed the contest–those are some great results though. Also, seeing your recipe being made by others is awesome and the best form of recognition. I know I still get tickled pink over it.

    One thing I thought I’d chime in on the wine discussion: a really tricky one to pair with (for me at least) is a strongly flavored Indian curry-centric dish. Much to my surprise, white wines, such as a riesling or a sauvignon blanc seem to go best with those, but it seems to go against what I would expect since the curry might be full bodied, tomato-based, spicy, loud, etc. Either my palette is off or I just don’t fully understand it *shrugs*

    Reply
  16. Cathy 16

    Hey Mike-

    I always say, stick with what you like, that will always be the best pairing.

    However, I would give Viognier a try with the curry.  It is a full-bodied white and I think you might be surprised about how well the flavors of the curry and this wine will play off each other.

    Reply
  17. Hi Everyone –
    Thanks so much – I must say it was a great combo – The story behind this is that My Hubby a Sergeant Major in the Marine and he and a groupe of guys have a yearly reunion with the guys who he went to Iraq with and they celebrate yearly they went in together and came out together – (They were the first wave in back when this started) So this year we decided to host this special night and after dinner when it was dessert time the “Bridlewood” was selected to be it’s perfect match and it really was – The bottle was gone very quickly and even Hubby a NON port fan loved every sip and bite!!

    Thanks again everyone – Cheers Cathy

    Reply
  18. Those are great tips–thank you!! I will definitely check out those banana brownies! And congrats on the scallop video!!

    Reply
  19. Those are great tips, even for the wine-blind like me. I’ll have to print these out so the next time I’m entertaining I don’t look like a moron!

    Reply
  20. Cathy! Great overview of what foods go with what wines. This is an outstanding quick reference for those looking to find something that will best compliment their dish. Bravo on making it so easy!

    PS- The scallops were the BOMB! Thanks for the kind words and for allowing me to use your recipe and pictures!

    Reply
  21. Leah Q 21

    Congrats Cathy – the winner of the food & wine pairing, and Congrats to you Cathy, The Noble Pig for your growing success, on the love that you feel along with your latest post.

    As I read your guides in paring wine with food, I learned a lot, I will later copy and paste to print out for future reference – you truly pointed out a few things that I did not know at all about food pairing with wine…. many thanks to you good pal.

    I will have to check out these sites you mention…

    Reply
  22. Lo! 22

    Omigosh. Michael, that video is fantastic. And kudos to you, Cathy, for a winning recipe! Those scallops did look amazing.

    I’m going to have to make up some caramalized banana brownies to eat with my port… that really DOES sound like a winning combo! What fun you guys are! Truly.

    Reply
  23. ALF 23

    I think I am going to give up eating and take up drinking wine.

    Reply
  24. Philly 24

    I finally made it here today !! Congrats! I fully intend to make those scallops soon !! Your Italian Medalions were a big success !!

    #1

    Reply
  25. Wow, so much informatin in one post.

    I simply love the look of the scallop recipe…which I will try very soon. My husband and I both love scallops. I will head on over to see the video…can’t wait.

    The photos you took of the dish are amazing…but I might have complimented you on that before. Too bad, you get another one.

    I will definitely keep your pairings in mind. I am a wine novice, but love wine none-the-less.

    Thanks for coming by my site…I love cupcakes too, but wouldn’t mind trying those frosting shots. :)

    Reply
  26. Tipper 26

    Congrats to Cathy!!

    Reply
  27. Shirley 27

    Wow, how cool that your recipe was adapted for Michael’s video. I enjoyed watching it very much. I also enjoyed that Michael was so down to earth and just rolling with it. (That Carlos is a man of few words … play music and be fed–seems reasonable!) The video and kudos to you should give you lots of new readers–awesome.

    Congrats to the other Cathy for her award-winning pairing!

    Last, thanks for all the info on pairings. I am always learning something new here. :-)

    Reply
  28. Alisa 28

    Congratulations Mrs. Famous person! How cool is that? Have fun with it, you totally deserve the accolades.

    Reply
  29. It is always a joy to read a blog written by someone who knows their subject. When it comes to wine there is no question but that is you.

    Reply
  30. Good wine/food pairing tips…

    I like his video with dog barking noise behind it at one point.. so homey.

    He is better than some guys on Food Network, honestly..

    Reply
  31. great tips on pairing food and wine! this is a department I am quite clueless at 😛

    Reply
  32. Bunny 32

    First you so deserve to have all this attention for the scallop recipe, it was beautiful, the best I have seen. Second, the information you gave on wine pairings may be pretty basic for alot of people but for me this is great!!! I’m pretty new to this and your information is EXACTLY what i need!! You don’t know how happy you made me. I’m saving this whole page to refer to, thank you Cathy!!

    Reply
  33. Bunny 33

    Ok I have a question, I’m very curious about wine,i have talked to a couple of customers about it in conversation when they’ve ordered wine. one customer told me that most people when they start drinking wine usually start out drinking a somewhat sweet wine, but as they get more into wine they prefer dryer wines, like Merlot or Cabernet. Do you have an opinion on this?? This is very interesting to me. Also, what wines need to be kept in the fridge and what wines are best at room temperature?? Sorry for all the questions!

    Reply
  34. Bunny 34

    yes i’ts me again, just one more question…..what does full bodied mean?? Does it me stronger in taste? Is a full bodied wine aged longer?? I told you I was curious!! I swear I’m not asking another question!

    Reply
  35. Cathy 35

    Yes, a lot of people start with White Zinfandel and progress through Merlot and on to Cabernet Sauvignon.  Wine is an acquired taste and this is just a natural progression to discovering its many nuances.

    As far as temperature, more wine is ruined by being too warm then cold.  It is easy to warm a wine that has been served too cold but difficult to chill a wine served too warm.  When a wine is served too warm it tastes alcoholic and is not pleasurable to drink.  White wines should be served cooler than reds.

    I prefer my red wines served between 65-55 degrees Fahrenheit and whites about 55-50 degrees Fahrenheit.  As far as Champagne/Sparkling Wine, 45 degrees Fahrenheit is a good temperature.  However, if it is a cheap sparkling wine, get it really cold, about 36-39 F, it will hide all the flaws.

    Reply
  36. Cathy 36

    Full-bodied wines have more viscosity on the tongue and a richer flavor.  These wines are often higher in alcohol or tannin or in both.  These wines also take longer to mature.

    Reply
  37. Paula 37

    Congrats to Cathy! Now I’m craving something with peanut butter frosting and a glass of wine!

    Love the wine 101 tips. I definitely learned my something new for the day reading it. If will be a great reference, too!

    Reply
  38. Thanks Cathy! These are the kind of tips I really need. I’m trying to learn bit by bit, but it’s going slowly…

    Reply
  39. Great tips for wine pairing, thanks! I like to experiment with Oriental dishes, since most recommendations are for ‘western’ type food and wine pairing, which means I just have to find out what works for me, heh :)

    Btw, I have an award for you over at my”>http://www.soyandpepper.com/2008/08/recent-awards.html”>my blog :) Not sure if you’re into that sort of thing but just want to acknowledge a brilliant blog!

    Reply
  40. Sandie 40

    Great post on pairings, Cathy! Very useful and information.

    Reply

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