When it comes to pairing wines with food there are two options: classic or unexpected. To showcase our wines and give you ideas for what to serve with your wines, executive chef of Balboa Cafe Mill Valley, Rick Edge, prepared four appetizers for us to nosh on at our September Balboa & Cultivar Wine Club Bus Party.
The wines Chef Rick was matching with the perfect appetizer were one of our vineyard designate wines, 2011 Leaky Lake Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, and three of our appellation wines: 2013 Cultivar Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc, 2012 Cultivar St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2011 Cultivar Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon.
Chef Rick prepared four dishes for six pairings. Here are the flavors to look for when planning your own dinner. Where a pairing is daring, we included some tips to ensure a perfect match.
Tomatoes and Sauvignon Blanc: a classic pairing. When you think gazpacho you're probably imagining a soup dripping with acidity. Not so with this refreshing shooter. Guests reached for taste after taste enchanted by its rich unctuousness. The smooth creaminess of this shrimp gazpacho amplified the richness of our 2013 Cultivar Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc, blinding one to any other pairing for the Sauvignon Blanc.
Caramelized Onion and Carmody Cheese Skewers with Sherry Vinegar Glaze & Piment d'Espelette
At first glance you may wonder how a dish can be paired with both a red and a white wine. The key lies in the balance of peppery, sweet, and creamy components. The green citric notes of our 2013 Cultivar Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc balance the heat in the Piment d'Espelette, a variety of chile pepper cultivated in Southern France, and the tartness of the sherry vinegar glaze. The rich sweetness of the caramelized onions and the buttery flavor of the Carmody cheese soften the tannins found in our 2011 Leaky Lake Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
When trying this pairing at home be sparing with the glaze. Too much of the sherry vinegar and your tastebuds will shrink in horror effectively stealing the thunder from either the Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc or the Leaky Lake Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, a travesty as both of these wines otherwise have a lengthy finish that deserves center stage.
Who says you can't have chicken with red wine? Successful pairings are made with sauces and this match is no different. Our 2011 Cultivar Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon brings earthy notes reminiscent of some Pinot Noir that complement the arugula pesto, offsetting its peppery nature with the sweetness of Bing Cherry and plums.
The meatballs, because they are made with chicken, have a more delicate flavor than their beef and pork counterparts. So, if it takes you a couple of bites to finish your meatball, you may not have any of the pesto left for your pairing. Not to fear! Try a sip of either our Leaky Lake Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon or St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon, cabernets less earthy than the Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon with smooth finishes that complements rather than overpowers the chicken.
You can never go wrong pairing beef with a Cabernet Sauvignon. What makes some matches more memorable than others are the toppings. With the selection of cheddar over a blue cheese the 2012 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon was a solid choice. If you prefer the earthiness of a blue cheese over a cheddar, you want a wine that's more of a meal by itself. Think of it like a boxing match, it's more interesting when both fighters are the same weight class. If a heavyweight and a featherweight are in the ring together it won't be as exciting. With its earthiness, the Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon is the heavyweight while the St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon is a featherweight. Had the slider been topped with Blue Cheese instead of cheddar the St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon would have been down for the count.