Weekly wine, food,
& travel features!
 


















Complimentary Contrast

By Foster Smith CSW

Do opposites attract?

I wonder if we have become somewhat “fixed” on the idea of marrying types of grapes with certain types of food, i.e. seafood, steak, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon. While this is undoubtedly correct, I find it more interesting to consider all components of the dish.

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Dinner of Desire

Break out the fine china for a little romance.

By Jan Walsh

Clo Pegase’s Jan Shrem finds that food and wine alone do not make for a romantic evening.

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Porch Pairing

Sauvignon Blanc pairs best with warm weather fare.

By Jan Walsh

Light summer fare served with well-chilled Sauvignon Blanc makes for many fresh and delicious pairings.

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Persistent Pairings

A complex dish deserves a complex wine.

By Jan Walsh


Making a rich, slow cooked osso bucco takes persistence. And the dish needs a wine of equal complexity—Reynold’s Family Persistence Red Wine 2004.

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Bella's Garden

Soft shell crab is a match for Bella’s Garden Shiraz 2007.

By Jan Walsh

Bella’s Garden is near and dear to the heart of Two Hands vintner, Richard Mintz. The wine is the namesake of his daughter, Bella. I recently enjoyed this award winning wine—named number five in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines 2007—with Mintz at Blackberry farm, paired with a pan fried soft shell crab.

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Luck and Money

Pair 75 wines with black-eyed peas and turnip greens on New Year’s Day.

By Jan Walsh


If the number 75 is a reminder of the percentage your stock portfolio lost in 2008, take no chances. Pair 75 wines with black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day. The peas symbolize good luck, the greens symbolize paper money.

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Champagne Flutes and Martini Glasses

Serve tuna tartare in a chilled martini glass.

If you are a wine lover’s whose martini glasses gather dust, we have the recipe for you. Serve ahi tuna tartare in chilled martini glasses paired with champagne flutes of J. Brut sparkling wine.

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The Joy of Not Cooking

Tria Market’s Thanksgiving menu plus wine selection equal a perfect match.

By Jan Walsh
Photo by Beau Gustafson

Make Thanksgiving a time to look forward to and remember fondly by not cooking. Order Tria Market’s Thanksgiving menu. And take home a meal and wines that pass the mother-in-law test.

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A Mouthful

Gewurztraminer is difficult to pronounce but easy to pair.

By Jan Walsh

The most popular wines are so because people can pronounce them. Chardonnay is easy to say, whereas Gewurztraminer- geh-VEHRTZ-trah-mee-ner-is a mouthful. But if you ever learn to pronounce it, you have done the hard part. Pairing Gewurztraminer is as easy as... a variety of soft and hard cheeses, pork, smoked foods, spicy foods, sauerkraut, Indian, Chinese and Thai cuisines. And it is a classic pairing with holiday entrees of roast turkey or ham.

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The Vineyard Table

Wente Vineyard's Carolyn Wente shares a pairings recipe from her cookbook.

By Jan Walsh

Most cooks match the wine to the food. But Carolyn Wente matches the food and recipes to Wente's Livermore Valley, California wines. She spent a day in the kitchen trying to create a white meat recipe that would pair well with Wente Merlot. And from her cookbook, Sharing the Vineyard Table, Wente shares her pairing advice and recipe for Wente Vineyards 20006 Crane Ridge Merlot.

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Solaire Chardonnay and Grilled Salmon

Robert Mondavi loved wine—and pairing wine with food.

By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson


For pairing with Solaire by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay, winemaker Rick Boyer enjoys a 
grilled salmon with dilled mustard glaze.

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Fun With Food

Pair Champagne shooters with small bites for your wedding reception at B&A Warehouse.

By Jan Walsh


Champagne is a festive and food friendly wine. Shooters are fun. Susan Mason, owner of B&A Warehouse, pairs the two in one glass with her Champagne Shooter Station. Add B&A appetizers for a wedding reception that is festive, fun and fabulous.

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Peak Pairings

Who says there is no such thing as a perfect pairing?

By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson


Terlato Wine Group has three: Angels’ Peak and lamb chops, Devils’ Peak with deviled pork chops, and Cardinals’ Peak with penne with Cognac.

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Chef's Tasting Menu

Enjoy a tasting menu and wine pairings in Veranda on Highland’s wine cellar.

By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson


Reserve the Wine Cellar for a private dinner at the Chef’s Table. And Veranda on Highland’s executive chef, Thomas Robey will prepare a tasting menu for dinner. Here is a sample menu paired with wines from the new wine list.

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Food Friendly Sparkler

Enjoy Domaine Jean-Luc Joillot Crémant de Bourgogne with both sweet and spicy.

By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson

Brandy Davis of Best Cellars Int’l distributes a sparkler that is friendly with a host of cuisines. And it is also easy on the pocketbook. The wine is 70 percent Pinot Noir and 30 percent Chardonnay. And it retails at $28 for a full bottle and $16 for splits.

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Sam's Lamb

Terra Valentine winemaker shares his favorite Valentine pairing.

By Jan Walsh

Winemaker and general manager, Sam Baxter shares his culinary talents and pairing advice. Terra Valentine’s flagship wine, the 2004 Spring Mountain District Cabernet, is a blend of their two estates. “This wine showcases our terroir in a rich, forward style that is softer than our single vineyards.  It is best consumed three to eight years from the vintage,” Baxter says. “Pair that with my own recipe for leg of lamb.” If you like his wine, you will love it paired with his lamb.

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Dining In Wine Country

Guests at The Vintage Estate are steps away from some of the world’s finest restaurants.

By Jan Walsh


Guests at The Vintage Estate can dine out every night of the week at a different restaurant that is within walking distance of their Villagio Inn and Spa and The Vintage Inn.

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Champagne and Chocolate

Two of my passions create the ultimate pairing.

By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson

Champagne is a great food wine. Chocolate is a delicious food, although not especially easy to pair with wine. But the two can make the ultimate pairing.

“For food and wine pairing, the level and quality of the acidity is often the most important element of white wine. And Champagne is perhaps the ultimate example of balanced acidity,” manager of Village Wine Market, Thomas LaBoone explains. “Champagne is both refreshing and palate cleansing, very flavorful yet remarkably elegant, and the bubbles add a lively aspect that makes both the wine and food dance harmoniously across the palate.”

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Peter's Pairings

Pair Charles Krug wines with your Thanksgiving meal.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


Peter Mondavi, Jr. loves to cook and serve wine with his food. But he does not stress over wine pairings—not even for Thanksgiving. “People get concerned about wine pairings. But it is not that big of a deal. The really tricky ones are chocolate, spicy dishes, sweets and acidic foods,” Mondavi says.

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Patti's Pairings

Find 10 years of tried and true wine pairing at The Vintage Wine Shoppe.

By Jan Walsh Photography by Beau
Gustafson

Owner of The Vintage Wine Shoppe, Patti Davidson has been pairing wines for her customers for ten years. She assists those who want a wine for dinner, supper clubs planning wine dinners, and local restaurants as she co-hosts their wine dinners. But no matter how large or small the audience, she has discovered three tried and true methods that have stood the test of time.

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Not So Subtle Nuances

Consider both a dish’s components and cooking method for wine pairing.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Pairing is rarely a simple matter of food plus wine equals perfection. There can be many nuances of a dish that effect how it pairs with a wine. The core product, ingredients, spices, and cooking method all combine to create a dish. And then comes the addition of finishing oils, spices, sauces and table condiments.

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Sweet Italy

Whip up a Cake of Fruits for an Italian dessert wine pairing.

By Jan Walsh

For dessert pairings the wine should be as sweet or sweeter than the dessert. This tried and true rule holds for Maculan’s Torcolato Breganze DOC 2004 and fruity dessert pairing. But in the family’s kitchen, Angela Maculan doesn’t just pair a dessert wine with a Cake of Fruits, she also uses the wine in the recipe.

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Red, White, and Beringer

All American wines pair with Fourth of July celebrations.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

As the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley, Beringer Vineyard’s wines make a traditional match for July’s feast of foods.

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Caviar Dreams

Champagne Gardet marries well with wedding reception fare.

By Jan Walsh

Lift a flute of Champagne to toast the bride and groom. And keep that flute for the fare that follows. From the wedding toast to the groom’s cake pairing, Champagne is the life of the wedding reception party.

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Pairing Primer

This Food and Wine 101 is a fresh start for pairings.

By Jan Walsh

For over a year this Pairings column has covered Birmingham chefs' favorite food and wine pairings from their restaurant menus. Now it is time to take what has been experienced and apply it. This month goes back to the basics of food and wine pairings. And each month afterwards wines covered in Spirits will be paired here.

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A Lofty Wine Bar

Four delectable dishes are paired off at The Wine Loft.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson


The Wine Loft is a new wine bar-located in the Goodall Brown Building in Birmingham's loft district-at 2200 First Avenue North. This hip, cosmopolitan wine bar offers over 40 wines by the glass, 150 by the bottle, and a menu of 12 wine friendly dishes. Birmingham's Wine Loft was opened in February by franchise owners and father and son partners, Mike and Mick Dunnavant. The Dunnavants have strong belief in, and high hopes for, the future of the downtown district. "It is my dream that downtown will one day have 50 of the best restaurants and bars in the area where people can walk from one to another," Mike says.

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Piedmont Pairing

Michael's Steaks & Seafood pairs a seafood risotto and an Italian white wine.

By Jan Walsh

Pairing food and wine from the same region makes for a well-matched meal. The wines and foods have "grown up together," shared the same terroir, and have a history of being tried and true. If you only learn one thing about food pairing, this should be it.

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The Perfect Bite

Brock's fine wines and artesian cheeses are made for each other.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Wine and cheese make a popular, traditional pairing. They are both products of fermentation. Each reflects its terroir-or it should. They come in many styles. And they both age until a peak and then begin to decline. Yet the two can be quite difficult to match.

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Shopper's Holiday

Shop until you drop by Tavern on the Summit for prime rib and Cabernet Sauvignon.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

The holiday season can be both a joyful and stressful time of year. So after shopping for everyone on your list, treat yourself to lunch or dinner at the Tavern on the Summit. Slide into a leather booth and a glass of Honig Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 under the warm glow of the gas lit sconces. And order a hearty cut of red meat-the King's Cut Prime Rib-to pair with a lovely red wine.

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Just Desserts

Chris Hastings bakes an apple croustade deserving of Schramsberg's Crémant Demi-sec.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Dessert wine pairings are among the most challenging. Some uncork this dilemma by pairing a dessert wine that is sweeter than the dessert-such as a port with chocolate or a Sauterne with crème brûlée. Others just leave the pairing to the professionals as was recently done at Hot & Hot's Schramsberg Wine Dinner.

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Local Match

Anthony Marini's Maryland crab cake meets a French white.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Winemaker Gilles Baumann and (local) Restaurant & Cocktail Bar owner and executive chef Anthony Marini are both perfections who maintain control of their products from start to finish. Baumann uses only estate grown grapes for his Domaine des Cassagnoles Gascogne Blanc 2005 and bottles the wine on his estate. And Marini doesn't settle for what some boast about-jumbo lump crab cakes. He creates "extra large" Maryland crab cakes with not only jumbo lump but also plenty of fresh claw meat and raw shrimp to bind the cake, rather than breadcrumbs. The combined results are a local pairing beyond perfection.

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Summertime's Northwestern Pairing

McCormick & Schmick's pairs crab and shrimp cakes with Oregon Pinot Gris.

By Jan Walsh

Photography Beau Gustafson

The fish are jumping and the corks are popping at McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant. Showcasing a vast selection of the freshest quality varieties from the Pacific Northwest, the Atlantic, local waters and unique species from international waters, the restaurant's commitment to local freshness is apparent in seasonally inspired dishes and regionally inspired preparations.

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Braised Veal and Australian Shiraz

Daniel George and Village Wine Market create quite a pairing.

By Jan Walsh

Photography Beau Gustafson

Rather than waiting for a winemaker to come to town, Daniel George and Village Wine Market paired together-creating a host of ongoing wine dinners. Held at the restaurant, Chefs, Daniel Briggs and George McMillan III prepared the menu, and Village Wine Market's Thomas LaBoone paired the wines. From their debut dinner, a popular match was the Braised Veal Shoulder and Henry's Drive Shiraz 2004 ($34 at Village Wine Market).

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Champagne and Vegetable Terrine

For hot summer months, Satterfield's offers a refreshing, chilled pairing.

by Jan Walsh

Champagne shouldn't be saved for a celebration. Champagnes and sparklers are among the most food friendly of wines. Not only are they the only wines commonly served for brunch, lunch, and dinner, they make everyday fare special, without overpowering more complex cuisines.

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Pizza Pie and Italian Wine

La Dama's famous Marilyn Monroe pizza meets its match.

By Jan Walsh

Photography Beau Gustafson

Serving wines with foods of the same region is as easy as Italian wines with pizza pie. A piping hot pizza may bring to mind big reds, such as Brunello, Barolo, Barbera or Chianti. Yet during the warmer months, Italian whites make for better pizza pairings. And at his posh pizzeria at Liberty Park, Tim Stevens finds no better wine for La Dama's Marilyn Monroe than the Tuscan, Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2003.

"The Vernaccia is a refreshing crisp white that is medium bodied with a great floral nose. I would recommend this wine to enjoy by itself or to pair with light sauces, in particular our white sauce that is found on this pizza," he explains.

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A Tender Twosome

Fleming's prime beef tenderloin meets its match with a soft red wine.

By Jan Walsh

When pairing wine with steak, most reach for a big, bold red, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or a red Zinfandel. These powerful wines cut through fattier cuts of beef-making them a tasty match for a rib eye or a New York strip. But when paired with more tender cuts without the fat component, such as prime beef tenderloin, they overwhelm. To achieve the delicate balance with tenderloin, open a softer red instead.

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Grilled Salmon and California Chardonnay

Classic Joe's Scott Lokey creates a classic white wine pairing.

By Jan Walsh

Most experts find Chardonnay a classic pairing for salmon. Classic Joe's Scott Lokey agrees. With Kelly's Salmon, a dish named for his wife, Lokey chose Testarossa Castello Chardonnay 2004. Although salmon and Chardonnay make an easy match, Kelly's Salmon is no simple fish dish.

 

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The Salad and Wine Challenge

Frank Stitt pairs a French wine with his latest creation-pheasant salad.

By Jan Walsh

Once pairing wine with dinner simply meant matching fish with white, meat with red, and regional foods with local wine. Although these are still appropriate pairings, today's fusion of ethnic and regional cuisines and the array of ever evolving wines lead to more confusion than perfect matches. So learn about pairings from the professionals-Birmingham's chefs and sommeliers. Each month this new column, "Pairings" will match food and wine in local restaurants.

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Comfort Food and Hearty Wine

Standard Bistro's Alan Martin pairs a Bandol blend with classic casoulet.

By Jan Walsh

As winter wanes, many are comforted by the simply prepared dishes remem-bered from childhood-comfort food. Chicken pot-pie, pot roast and other hearty fare combine a number of ingredients and slow cook, filling the kitchen with warmth and comforting aro-mas. Even better than mem-ories of meatloaf, today's comfort foods often include more sophisticated ingredients, cutting edge techniques learned from television chefs, and they pair well with wine.

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