Pairing a three course meal. Could I do it? Bob the builder and I have the same opinion: Yes we can!
First course: soup
Soups are quite often tricky to pair. Firstly because they are liquid and secondly because they are hot.
The soup in question was pea. Peas are a vine based plant and so a far distant cousin to the pea, which is a bonus as they both have a tendency to growing sweetness. Peas are quite starchy, but also full of protein, minerals and vitamins.
It’s the minerality that come through in the soup along with the sweetness. As the soup will leave the mouth wet [it’s a liquid], it needs a quite high alcohol content to balance and it will need a wine with minerality and structure to complement the soup.
I went with a white Rioja Castillo Albai 2016. It is high in abv 12%, loads of minerality, it had only a short spell in oak barrels, but was bursting with flavours and strong enough to hold it’s own with the strong pea soup.
White Rioja is one of those white wines for folk who aren’t keen on white wine. A very balanced pairing.
Pea Soup + Sauce + Potatoes
The meal moved onto chicken in a white wine and cream sauce, with roasted new potatoes and green beans. I was lucky enough to see the chef at work and saw the processes the meal went through.
The chicken was browned and sealed, there were mushrooms added and their flavour held strongly. The whole, skin on, roast potatoes with rosemary were strong on the outside but soft and sweet inside and the herbs created a lasting flavour on the palate.
We needed a red.
The need was for a red with lots of fruit flavours and enough body to balance and work alongside the cream and herbs. Pinot Noir fitted the bill, but..
Different climates create differences in wines across the same grape. Said simply, hotter country more fruit flavours, more strength. Not better, just different. I plumped for a south Australian Pinot Noir, a McGuigan Classic 2016. Full of fruit and strong enough to cope with the herbs.
The chicken was fantastic, and the wine worked well with it, liquorice flavours working their way through. It might be an Irish thing, but I could have sat with a bowl of the potatoes and a glass of the wine quite happily!
Pudding was on it’s way!
Banoffee pie. Sweet, sticky, crunchy, gooey, and sweet again. The desert wine was a Muscadelle (Vina Araya Moscatel de Valencia). It also carried a high alcohol content which helped clean out the residual stickiness of the wine. It also carried a full flavour of grapes as the main fruit.
Not often a flavour picked up in wine, oddly, but a flavour that in the words of one diner made a banana taste like never before. The wine evolved a scent of cigar box which was a delight as the glass began to empty.
The desert wine is the one often overlooked at meals. They really make everything finish on a real high and should be looked out for far more. Strong, smooth, full of flavour, and go with sweet sweet puds.