Wine and Food Pairings with a Sense of Place

29 Mar

One of the many ways to learn about pairing wine and food is to see what the favored pairings are in the region where the wine is made. For some (at least partially) understandable reason, foods grown in the area where wines are made can have an affinity for one another. Of course, this won’t hold for all foods and wines, so it’s best to see what the locals pair. I just got back from a trip to the Southern France, including Provence and the Rhone valley, where Lori (the other half of the pair of Pairings), where I researched wines, foods and pairings in those regions.

wine fair

Provence and some of the areas of the Rhone Valley are famous for the classic “dry style” of rosés, which tend to have fragrances and tastes of watermelon, strawberries and other fresh red fruits, while maintaining good acidity for pairing with a wide range of foods. During the visit, foods with garlic, olives, anchovies, alone or in combination with seafood (e.g. shrimp or scallops) and a wide range of cheeses made good pairings. Many wineries make two rosés, one lighter for aperitifs and the other more full-bodied for main courses. With the warm weather coming up, a nice rosé is a good alternative to a red wine. Also, because of it’s versatility in pairing with food, rosé is a wine to have year-round.

Southern France isn’t known for their whites, but has a range of excellent whites, from fresh crisp ones, usually a blend of several grapes, to more full-bodied single vineyard whites that see some oak. White fish dishes are a good accompaniment with any of these wines, with the preparation and/or sauce adjusted to the power of the wine. Brandade de Morue, a concoction of potatoes and cod, is a wonderful local dish we had for the first time during the trip, very versatile for whites (as well as rosés). It can be made many ways, but in its simplest form potatoes and fish are cooked separately and then mixed (even “mashed”) together, with olive oil or other liquid and seasoned to your taste.

Southern France is famous for their red wines. S. Rhone has red blends, typically of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre (sometimes referred to as GSM), but with up to 13 grapes, for instance, in Chateauneuf-du-Pape reds. In N. Rhone Syrah is the only red grap, and Provence reds are dominated by Mourvedre. The best wines have a wonderful mix of characteristics, rustic yet elegant, muscular, powerful, intense yet complex. These wines may have black or red fruit, and be peppery and spicy, with notes leather and forest floor. These are just words, of course…try these wines and you’re bound to find some to your liking. Roasted lamb is a classic pairing, especially with Syrah. Black truffles were still in season during our trip, and were paired in many ways. Hard cheeses generally pair well…why not a truffled hard cheese such as Cacio di Bosco.

Vintage Wine Press and Ray

This just touches on a few of the many pairing with wines from Southern France. As I always say, try them out for yourself to find out what works best for you. On Saturday April 2, Pairings Wine and Food is having a free Pairing of 6 wines from Southern France paired with some of the foods mentioned in this article (4-7 pm, 600 Main St., Winchester, MA).

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One Response to “Wine and Food Pairings with a Sense of Place”

  1. bear paw garlic October 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Outstanding article it is actually. Friend on mine has been searching for this info.

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