The weather gives a nod to food from the oven. It’s time for the feasts to begin, and that means Wine Pick by Rich.
We still need wines that will stand up to the richness of buttery, spiced, roasted and baked vegetables. The solution: let’s get creative and merge rich, fragrantly heady wines with some sturdy American staples like squash and yams. For our hearty feast we’ll borrow some wines from Alsace, a suitably cooler, lesser-known region of France.
Alsace grows the same white varieties that are grown on the east side of the Rhine, in Germany. But Alsace has warmer, drier, sunny summers, and reliably ripens Riesling, Sylvaner, and even Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. When bottled, the names of those grapes appear on the label, unusual for France.
What makes wines from Alsace different from the German style is not just the warmer summers. The difference is the way the French vinters make it: dry. Apparently the food there is rich (presumably meat-heavy), and the dryness of the wines complements that, cutting through the fat. But here in LA we pair them with vegetarian fusion food brilliantly.
The leading grape is Riesling, followed by Sylvaner, Pinot Gris, and Gerwurtztraminer, and a few other obscure varieties that don’t make it to America. But two well-known producers have been exporting for a while now. We’ll name names, because they are difficult to find, and well, it’s a holiday, a special meal. In LA, both Hugel and Trimbach can be found in better wine stores. They both are reasonably priced for a holiday meal, considering we want the best wines on the table we can afford.
These wines are full of complex, nuanced, aged yet clean flavors, with a bracing, stern finish. That makes them ideal for oven baked and roasted dishes with butter and olive oil too. The expert chefs here on cater.com are featuring their own creations and their variations on traditional dishes. Here’s what my Alsation-theme feast will be.
For the opening toast, we’ll go just outside Alsace to neighboring Champagne, for the ever-reliable Mumm’s Cordon Rouge. That will pair with a vegetarian version of a quiche Lorraine.
Chilled Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Gerwurtztraminer will be set on the table. If I can find one (doubtful), a Pinot Noir too. The heady Gewurtz, fragrant and crisp, will match Thai crab cakes and vegetable spring rolls.
From the oven will be a choice of separate dishes: squash with butter and sage, yams with cinnamon and brown sugar, cauliflower with garlic and olive oil, brussel sprouts, and a sourdough-bread stuffing cake with a walnut gremolata. Pinot Gris and especially Riesling, more than one, will find a match with these hearty and spicy dishes.
After the oven dishes we’ll have a mild soft cheese with wholegrain bread, with more Riesling. And to end, we’ll let the Gewutz and the Pinot Noir compete against the traditional pumpkin pie with whipped cream.
All these wines will match with and stand up to the spices in these dishes. These unique and little-known wines were formerly considered too “austere” and “flinty” for American palates. But not any more. Since spicy fusion food took hold here, distinctive and serious wines from Alsace should be considered natural partners.