That may seem like a challenge to some, but, after many years of wine tasting, the obvious challenge arose.
How do you choose wine when you entertain at home, whether it is a small, intimate dinner party or a celebration with a hundred guests? How do you choose wine at a restaurant with a wine list of over two-hundred bottles?
Often the two don’t meet and a poor choice exists.
The regions climate is semi-continental, with cold winters, rainy springs and often hot, dry and sunny summers, all conditions favorable for both white and red wines.
The climate creates wines known for character and richness.
Burgundy (Bourgogne) runs north to south and is home to five wine growing regions. Chablis is the northernmost, while Maconnais is southernmost, with Cote d’Or, Cotes de Beaune and Cote Chalonnais in the middle.
The two primary grapes of Burgundy are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The goal of my wine journey was to see how well both international grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, would pair with an unsual variety of foods on this planet.
The first stop to test these two grapes was a hearty, meat-centric restaurant that focuses on artisanal products, small growers and farmers. The food focus is on rich, salty, roasted flavors that include sausage, terrines and charcuterie.
My first course was a Beef & Stilton Pie, paired with a (Pinot Noir) Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuits, 2009 Don Michel Gros, followed by a Crostini with Char-grilled Greens & Miticrema matched with a (Chardonnay) Marsannay, Les Clos, Monopole 2009. The final appetizer was a house favorite, Lamb Meatballs with Parmesan Cream, paired with a Pinot Noir, Morey-St.-Denis 1er Cru, 2008 Les Ruchots.
The second stop was an Indian restaurant, where Riesling and Gewurtztraminer generally rule. In this case, ‘Saag Paneer’, a poached gnocchi with spiced spinach puree on top of an omani lemon crisp was the first course.It was obvious that the Macon-Village 2011 Chardonnay was the mate for this dish.
Salmon Tandoor Tikka , followed with a glass of Vire Clesse, Maison Chanson Pere & Fils 2010 Chardonnay filled the bill. And the final Indian dish was tandoor-cooked chicken, simmered in a sauce with cashews, white poppy seeds and cream. A wonderful Poilly Fuisse, Somaine Eric Forest, 2008 drank like velvet with the tandoor-cooked chicken.
Spanikopita (spinach and feta cheese), grilled Octopus with almonds, chickpeas, capers, onions and lemon juice, and Kotopoulo-Chicken in lemon sauce paired perfectly with three Chardonnays, Saint Bris, 2011, Domaine Clotilde Davenne; Chablis 2011, Domaine Christian Moreau and Chablis Grand Cru, Vaudesir 2010, Domaine Billaud-Simon.
The pairing made you feel like royalty.
The results: The versatility of the wines from Burgundy, specifically the varietals of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir can replace the pre-conceived notion that you pair foods with wines from the same region.
It worked for me with foods form Japan, Greece, England, Italy and India.
Philip S. Kampe