There are some vacations that are mere weekends, but you look forward to as you would a month long getaway. This is how we feel about getting together with our dear friend Marianne. The three of us just click. I don't know why, our personalities are very different, but we each contribute something different to the mix and it works.
Marianne just completed a new home in the mountains of North Carolina. The view, as you can see, is spectacular. The air is clean and refreshing, not a peep except for nature. During the day we would discuss what's going on with our lives as we sipped wine and gazed out at the tree covered mountains. You felt trivial and majestic at the same time.
But when we started dinner each evening, we would break out the dance music and it became very "The Big Chill." Singing, laughing and moving in a way that only middle aged white people can. Barely rhythmically, but certainly joyfully!
But let me get to the point of this blog entry. Clare suggested that we have a wine pairing challenge. She would send us the recipe of the dish she was planning to cook, and we would all bring what we thought would be the best wine. The dish was Shrimp Crepes in a White Wine Cream Sauce (recipe link below).
I brought an Ugni Blanc/Colombard blend from Tariquet in Gascony, France. I thought the acidity would cut thought the cream sauce. Clare brought a Spanish Verdejo from Naia, for much the same reason. Grassy, but clean taste and acidity for the sauce. Marianne went a completely different route, she chose a rich and semi-sweet Chardonnay from Simi in California.
First we tried them as sippers. The Ugni Blanc won. It was unique, light and refreshing. As we relaxed on the porch this wine really matched the setting, warm day, slight breeze and a mild refreshing wine. Clare's Verdejo was second and Marianne's wine was the unanimous loser. Too sweet, too oaky and round, almost heavy. It was the sweetness that really threw us. Nowhere on the label is there any inkling of the residual sugar. If the axiom "Americans talk dry and drink sweet" is true, then the popularity of this wine proves it. If you love dry wines, this wine is not for you.
Then we moved to the meal. I was cocky and convinced my Ugni would shine again.
But, the Ugni Blanc was not just overwhelmed by the dish, it was obliterated. No taste at all. I had forgotten the first rule of wine and food pairing: "The weight of the wine should match the weight of the dish." My wine was way too light at only 10% alcohol. I should practice what I preach.
Second, again, was Clare's Verdejo. It had more oomph than the Ugni, but the grassiness was slightly unpleasant with the rich and smooth shrimp dish.
So... Believe it or not, the Simi Chardonnay was unanimous winner this time. The weight and richness of the wine, perfectly matched the weight and richness of the dish. The sweetness and the oakiness were gone, replaced by a mellow fruitiness. You never know do you?
That's the beauty of wine. Because it is so varied on so many levels, we may never fully understand it. But we have a lot of fun trying! Below are our VIniCodes™ and Perfect Pairings for each of the wines featured.