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Food for Thought: Challenging Food & Wine Pairings

by Steven DeSalvo & Gabriel Rosenthal, Amanti Vino Food Wizards

As Amanti Vino’s resident food dweebs, we wanted to bring you some of our delicious—and obsessive—food and beverage ruminations, hot and fresh from the oven. This month, we tackle four difficult food and wine pairings. To accomplish this, we’ve settled on three guiding principles that we think are important when it comes to pairing food and wine: Drink what you like; understand that seasoning and cooking methods are critical for achieving balance between food and wine; and—when in doubt—pair like with like. (For example, Italian wine with Italian cuisine.) 

Keeping these ‘rules’ in mind, and with beautiful weather well on the way, we came up with four pairing examples that we use both in the store and at home to make life’s edible moments all the more delicious: 

1) The notorious asparagus
One of our all-time favorite ingredients to cook, asparagus is both unique in flavor and provides ample opportunity to make use of some exciting cooking techniques. However, this particular spring vegetable is infamous for its difficulty to pair with wine. Its characteristic bitterness is where the problem lies. Our favorite workaround is to take advantage of the fact that this bitterness tends to make wines taste sweeter—take advantage of this by reaching for a dry fruity white, perhaps from the Northern Rhône, Alsace or Austria. Particularly Grüner Veltliner!

2) Caesar Salad
Hey, we’re suckers for the classics. This umami-rich dish is packed with two of our favorite ingredients: parmesan cheese and anchovies. When choosing wines to go with a Caesar salad remember that umami-dense foods can bring out bitter notes and emphasize acid. Fortunately, a good Caesar is always cut with some lemon, which means we can focus on taking care of the bitterness. Stick to low-tannin reds like Beaujolais and Grenache, or maybe try a coastal white like a Trebbiano

3) Spicy food 
Spring is here, and that means we’re looking for any excuse to cook outside. For many of us impassioned grillers, smokers, and barbeque-ers this also means breaking out various spice blends, chili peppers, and pastes. Dishes that contain an element of heat or are deeply spiced can drown out your wine or intensify both the heat of both the alcohol and the food. Enter the off-dry Riesling, a wine professional’s best friend. (Ask any sommelier!) An element of sweetness, along with the classic Riesling acidity, is easily the best way to balance heat and spicy richness. Riesling packs both a punch of stone fruit and a refreshing acidity and cool minerality that will make your spicy dishes sing. 

4) American-style barbeque 
On the subject of grills and warm weather, American barbeque classics like pulled pork or moist fatty brisket are classically served with beer. However, we also believe the barbeque world is rife with delicious wine pairing opportunity. Think about the sauces that compliment your favorite barbeque dishes and try pairing like with like. For sweet ketchup-based sauces a spicy, jammy Malbec will make your smoky meat pop. If you’re a fan of vinegar or mustard based sauces, try a sparkling wine with some refreshing acidity, such as Cava or Champagne

Check out some of our favorite examples of the wines mentioned below. Until next time, happy eating (and drinking)! 

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Benoit Marguet - Shaman Grand Cru NV (750)
Benoit Marguet - Shaman Grand Cru NV (750ml)
Sparkling Wine Biodynamic Grown Organically Natural Item 

A delicious, zero-dosage grower champagne from the House of Marguet! Aromas of yellow fruits, red apples, fresh biscuits, stony minerality, and subtle fresh flowers. Layered & complex—a great value for a high quality, small-production... Read More

Our price  $69.99
All sizes are 750mL unless otherwise noted.
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