This is my proposed “virtual wine list” for the delicate and delicious TDPC winter menu, the courses of which are shown above for reference.
Note that in order to come up with my suggested wine pairings, I have applied the wine pairing principles of the Italian Sommelier Association (which I am a member of). I find these valuable because they provide readers with a structured approach to wine pairings as well as general pairing criteria which readers can apply to identify wines, even beside those that I am recommending below, that would still “work” based on the desired characteristics that you will find outlined here below in connection with each course. For a detailed overview of the wine pairing criteria and technique promoted by the Italian Sommelier Association, please refer to this post of mine that I published on Flora’s Table.
One quick word about glasses: I am well aware that nowadays there are certain sources who advocate the use of tumblers or anyway stemless glasses for wine. If you ask me, in one word – don’t. Even leaving the inherent elegance of stemmed wine glasses aside, there is a technical reason for using them for wine (provided that they are handled the way they are supposed to): temperature control. A stemmed glass is supposed to be held by the stem, not by the bowl: by doing this, the heat of your hand/fingers will not interfere with the temperature of the wine in your glass and you will be able to enjoy your wine at the temperature it is supposed to (assuming of course that it is poured at the right temperature!)
1. Aperitif/Pre-Dinner Drinks
Since this is a dinner party, I would not hesitate for a moment: in my book, there is nothing that sets the right tone and makes guests feel welcome and pampered better than a flute of quality sparkling wine. Technically here there is no pairing to be made, but since this would be the prelude to a winter menu, I would stay away from Prosecco (which, for the most part, is a Charmat-Martinotti Method sparkler) and definitely opt for a more structured and complex Classic Method (or Traditional Method) sparkling wine – something like Champagne or Crémant in France, Franciacorta DOCG or Trento DOC in Italy or Cava in Spain, just to name a few.
If you are interested in learning more about the difference between Charmat-Martinotti Method sparkling wines and Classic Method sparkling wines, you may refer to this post about the Classic/Traditional Method and this post about the Charmat-Martinotti Method that I published on Flora’s Table.
Now, for a few suggestions.
I will pass on recommending specific Champagne producers, as most people have their own well defined favorite styles/houses within their budget when it comes to Champagne. Well, needless to say: if you do want to know a couple of brands that I like, feel free to ask in the comments section 🙂 We will focus instead on French Crémants; Italian sparkling wines in the Franciacorta DOCG or Trento DOC appellations; Australian sparklers from the Tasmania region; and South African Méthode Cape Classiques. Given the need to source these wines internationally, I will stay mostly mainstream in my recommendations:
- France: Domaine Jean Bourdy, Crémant du Jura; Domaine André et Mireille Tissot, Crémant du Jura “Indigène“; Meyer-Fonné, Crémant d’Alsace Brut Extra
- Italy: Berlucchi, Franciacorta “Cuvée Imperiale” Vintage; Bellavista, Franciacorta Brut; Ferrari, Trento “Perlé” Brut; if budget is not a concern: Ca’ del Bosco, Franciacorta “Cuvée Annamaria Clementi“ or Ferrari, Trento “Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore“
- Australia: A by Arras, Tasmania “Premium Cuvée“ or House of Arras, Tasmania “Grand Vintage“; Jansz, Brut Tasmania “Premium Cuvée“ or Jansz, Brut Tasmania “Vintage Cuvée“
- South Africa: JC Le Roux, “Scintilla” Méthode Cap Classique Vintage Reserve; Pongracz, “Desiderius” Méthode Cape Classique
2. Appetizer/Starter – Cremini Mushroom Soup
2.1 Wine Pairing Criteria:
As indicated in the introduction to this post, below you can find my analysis of the main features of our starter which is the starting point for identifying the desired characteristics of a wine that can pair well with this course. Certain food features require a pairing by contrast, while others command for a pairing by association (to learn more about this, read my post on wine pairing criteria that is published on Flora’s Table).
2.1.1 Food main characteristics: (i) latent sweetness; (ii) flavor; (iii) touch of greasiness; (iv) medium structure
2.1.2 Wine main characteristics: (i) good acidity; (ii) good intensity in aromas/mouth flavors; (iii) medium ABV or (if red) medium tannicity; (iv) medium bodied
2.2 Wine Pairing Ideas:
2.2.1 Red Wines – Northern Hemisphere: Barbera d’Asti or Barbera d’Alba, Italy (pick a fairly young, not too structured Barbera – something aged in steel only or anyway not overly oaked)
Recommendations: Pico Maccario, Barbera d’Asti “Lavignone“; Vinchio-Vaglio Serra, Barbera d’Asti Superiore “I Tre Vescovi“; Coppo, Barbera d’Asti “Camp du Rouss“; Dante Rivetti, Barbera d’Alba Superiore “Boschi“
2.2.2 Red Wines – Southern Hemisphere: Central Otago Pinot Noir, New Zealand
3. Main Course – Pan Fried Quail with Vincotto Glazed Grapes
3.1 Wine Pairing Criteria:
3.1.1 Food main characteristics: (i) latent sweetness; (ii) sapidity; (iii) juiciness; (iv) touch of greasiness; (v) latent bitterness (from the grilled radicchio); (vi) medium to full structure
3.1.2 Wine main characteristics: (i) good acidity; (ii) pronounced smoothness; (iii) good ABV or tannicity; (iv) medium to full bodied
3.2 Wine Pairing Ideas:
3.2.1 Red Wines – Northern Hemisphere: Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend – Left Bank Bordeaux, Médoc, France (ideally, with some age)
Recommendations: Château Ormes de Pez, St. Estèphe; Château Lynch-Bages, “Echo de Lynch-Bages” (second vin), Pauillac; Château Pichon Longueville-Lalande, “Réserve de la Comtesse” (second vin), Pauillac; Château Talbot, St. Julien; Château du Tertre, Margaux
3.2.2 Red Wines – Southern Hemisphere: GSM (Grénache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre/Mataro) blend, Australia
4. Dessert – Poached Pear Chocolate Puddings
4.1 Wine Pairing Criteria:
4.1.1 Food main characteristics: (i) sweetness; (ii) spiciness; (iii) flavor; (iv) aftertaste; (v) medium to full structure
4.1.2 Wine main characteristics: (i) sweet; (ii) intensity of aromas/mouth flavors; (iii) long finish; (iv) medium to full bodied
4.2 Wine Pairing Ideas:
With desserts, the one rule you have to bear in mind is that the wine pairing is invariably done by association (never by contrast): in other words, you want to pair a sweet wine with a dessert. Having said that as a very general concept, chocolate-based desserts are never easy to pair: in this case, in the northern hemisphere we will provide an alternative between a French fortified wine (Banyuls) and an Italian Passito (or raisin wine), whilst in the southern hemisphere we will go for an Australian Tawny Port (another fortified wine).
Recommendations for (b): Lungarotti, Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito; Colpetrone, Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito; Fattoria Colleallodole, Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito; Tenute Lunelli/Tenuta Castelbuono, Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito
4.2.2 Sweet Red Wines – Southern Hemisphere: Tawny Port, Australia
Recommendations: Yalumba, “Museum Reserve” Antique Tawny or (even better) Yalumba, “Museum Reserve” 21 Year Old Antique Tawny; Penfolds, “Father” 10 Year Old Grand Tawny or (even better) Penfolds, “Grandfather” Rare Tawny; Seppeltsfield, “Para” Grand Tawny or (even better) Seppeltsfield, “Para” 21 Year Old Vintage Tawny