This year, I'll be hosting the Solstice tasting on the day of the solstice itself. I always look forward to this; it is such a feast and lots of fun. I invite my guests to bring a bottle of wine and a food pairing.
I was wondering what to do this year when I went to the Food and Wine Show in November. I attended this session with Jerry Comfort and got really excited by his demonstration of how food affects the taste of wine.
As a result, I'm inspired to take a bit of an unconventional approach to my Solstice tasting this year... Past themes have been wine and cheese, wine and food pairings, and things Italian. Typically at a tasting I have followed the advice to serve light whites first, then move on to reds. I've also observed the tendency to pair according to flavours, or regions.
There are 2000+ flavours, and only 5 tastes, so pairing according to taste instead of flavour opens up the range of options considerably. I think it is a bit less intimidating, too, seemingly more simple.
The Progressive Food Menu designed by Jerry Comfort has 4 different taste categories, with red and white wines in each group.
So I'm going to present the wines by category, with a red and white wine served side by side; along with the suggested food pairing.
I've never been to a tasting like this so it really is my own take on the Progressive Food Menu.
Fingers crossed, I hope it works! I have ten guests coming; I wish I could accommodate more people around my table.
Off-dry and Light Styles of Wine Category 1
Light, fruity whites (no oak): riesling, gewurztraminer, viognier, white zinfandel, chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc
Fruity, low tannin reds: rose, nouveau beaujolais, pinot noir, light sangiovese, zinfandel, chianti, merlot, shiraz
> Chinese spicy szechuan, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, plum sauce, sweet and sour sauces
> Mexican spicy enchilada sauces, fruit salsas, chocolate mole sauce
> Pasta with tomato sauce, cream sauce or mushrooms
> Thai foods, sweet Thai chile sauce, coconut curries
> Seasonings like chili, peppercorns, ginger, garlic
> Japanese sushi with pickled ginger and wasabi
> Indian foods: spicy curries, chutneys
> Fresh mozzarella, brie, smoked cheeses
Crisp, Light Intensity Wines Category 2
Crisp, light whites: pinot grigio, champagne, riesling, sauvignon blanc, viognier, unoaked chardonnay
Fruity, low tannin reds: rose, beaujolais, pinot noir, merlot, sangiovese, chianti
Pair Acid/Bitter/Protein (umami) dominant foods with crisp and fruity wines
> Bitter, astringent salad greens: arugula, watercress, spinach, radicchio
> oily fish: sardines, herring, anchovies, mackerel, salmon
> Shellfish, lobster, crab, and shrimp with lemon
> Smoked fish: salmon, trout, sturgeon, eel
> Oysters with vinegar, lemon or cocktail sauce
> Asparagus, artichoke and mushroom
> prosciutto and melon
> caviar, ceviche
> fresh goat cheeses
Most Versatile Category 3
Most whites: pinot grigio, gewurtraminer, chenin blanc, riesling, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay
Most reds: rose, pinot noir, merlot, syrah, zinfandel, sangiovese, cabernet savignon
Pair balanced foods with most whites and most reds
> Properly seasoned roasted, grilled, sauteed meats, poultry, seafood
> Salt-based ingredients: olives, capers, bacon/pancetta, preserved lemons, and cheeses like feta
> Acid based sauces with proper seasonings (red or white wine sauces, mustard sauces, lemon/lime sauces, vinegrettes, verjus based sauces
> veal/poultry or seafood picatta with lemon and capers
> pasta, lasagnas with ingredients listed above
> soups, stews, ragouts, casseroles with salt-based ingredients and acidity
> cheddar, gruyere, fontina
Dessert Wines Category 4
Recioto, Madiera, Sweet Sherry, port, muscat, riesling, vin santo, sauternes, tokaji, ice wine
Pair desserts with sweet dessert wines
(never serve food sweeter than the wine)
> chocolate desserts, flourless chocolate cake, brownies, mousses, truffles
> creamy desserts: creme brule, cheescake, pastry cream, ice cream
> fruit dessert: stone fruit, apples, pears, citrus, tropical, berries
> caramel and nut desserts
> pecan pie, almond tart, cakes, cookies, pastries
> strong blue cheeses