Wine & Food Pairings
Corned Beef and Cabbage with Horseradish Dijon Sauce, served with Mashed Potatoes with Haystack Goat Cheese and a Variety of Wines for Tasting
THE WINE SAMPLING:
Life is full of choices – making good choices improves our lives, but hopefully we learn when we make bad choices. Wine pairing is no exception – there are good and bad choices, but hopefully we always choose at least good wine – maybe just not the best match. Pairing wine is also very subjective – maybe one likes sweet flavors of wine with spicy foods, or spicy wines with spicy food, or salty food with sweet wine or salty food with acidic wine. So for this month, I thought, “Why limit the choices to just one?” “Why not present several wines from different places, made with different varietals and in different styles?”
This experiment is unlike many of my customers tasting groups. Often we help them choose wines of the same origin and varietal with different prices, or the same varietal from different regions. This pairing today won’t be like the concise science experiments we conducted in grade school with only one variable. Such as growing beans and feeding them different amounts of water and then measuring how much the beans grew.
In preparation for the monthly food and wine pairing, I begin with my own personal choice of wine for the pairing. Then I over-think it a lot, and start to consult my sales reps, then the internet. If you ever want to be confused, just go to the net. First, many wines vary by vintage (most postings aren’t of current vintages) and secondly – this is a huge second – recipes differ…. A lot.
Tonight, I am unsure if the corned beef will be salty, mustardy, briny or mildly beefy. Generally, beer is the safest bet for corned beef – but this is a wine pairing show. I think a great option would be a sparkling rose. Sparkling rose is such a great pairing wine for a variety of foods and we have featured it many times on the show. So today, I feel compelled to feature something different. Even though corned beef is indeed a red meat, we have recently had several red wines. In addition, with longer and warmer days, spring is in the air, so I want to feature a white. However, without knowing the recipe, I am going to bring several choices today, and we will decide on air, which is the best pairing.
My first choice is way out there. I didn’t see any mention of corned beef with this wine in all my research. But I figure, the wine is so delicious it will at least stand up in its own right. Cordero di Montezemolo Arneis is a white wine from the Langhe region of Northwestern Italy. Langhe is home to some of the most prestigious wines in Italy, including Barolo and Barbaresco. For wines which do not conform to the production criteria (production area, grape varieties or winemaking techniques) associated with these prestigious names, there is the Langhe DOC.
Although not as well known as the more popular whites of Langhe like Moscato and Gavi, the Arneis grape is increasingly popular for its delicate, exotic perfume and refreshing finish. I chose this wine because it is clean and crisp with enough minerality and acid to balance a salty corned beef and enough sweetness in case it is briny or mustardy. This wine is fermented in stainless steel and left on the lees for one month for malolactic fermentation. It has 13 percent alcohol. The Monfalletto estate boasts a centuries-old history with its beginnings dating back to 1340 and is still family run. The entire company also uses "green" energy and contributes to the Repower certified and guaranteed recyclability project for the development and consumption of clean energy. Arneis means rascal in Italy – lets see if it wants to cooperate with our dish or not.
On the web I mostly noted California Pinot for its bright fruit and acidity as the red wine of choice while Riesling was the white grape of choice to pair with corned beef. For this reason, I wanted to include a Riesling. The Heinz Eifel Riesling Kabinett has only 8.5 percent alcohol, so I knew this would be the sweetest of tonight’s choices. This sweeter wine will be in contrast to the drier wines. This is like the yin and yang of food and wine pairing - A little acid to cut through the fat in the beef and a little sweetness to offset the tang of the salt – sweet and salty, sweet and spicy and acidic and salty. A goal is to find balance and harmony among the flavors.
The Heinz Eifel is a relatively young winery, very modern in equipment and technique but in a very old region. Heinz Eifel himself has control over the entire winemaking process — from vine to bottle. German wines are classified according to quality and sweetness and harvest ripeness. Kabinett generally means “fully ripened grapes of the main harvest, typically picked in September, and are usually made in a light style.”
The most famous of Germany’s 13 Qualitätswein regions, Mosel is also the third largest in terms of production. It follows the path of the Mosel river from its confluence with the Rhine river near Koblenz, upstream and south-west to Germany's border with Luxembourg and France. This region also includes the Saar and Ruwer tributaries, and was formerly known as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer until August 2007, when the name was officially shortened to Mosel.
The Mosel has a very cool, northern continental climate, and such slopes are very effective in optimizing the vines’ exposure to sun, facilitating the ripening of the grapes. The best sites also take advantage of the solar radiation reflecting off the rivers’ surface and onto the vines, and the dark slate soil’s ability to absorb heat during the day and radiate it back to the vines at night. In summer the weather is warm, but certainly not hot, with an average July temperature of around 65F.
Another popular suggestion on the web was Alsatian wine. Elk Cove Winery from Oregon produces some lovely wine including Pinot Gris, Riesling and Pinot Blanc, traditional Alsatian grapes in a more traditional Alsatian style. While all of these varietals could be paired with tonight’s dish, the Pinot Blanc offers yet another contrast to the German Riesling and the Italian Arneis. Pinot Blanc has a bit more viscosity, so we can see what role that plays in the pairing. Elk cove Pinot Blanc is also fermented in stainless steel, but doesn’t undergo any malolactic fermentation. It is also family owned and boasts a second generation wine-maker.
The parallel between life and wine continues – making good choices and limiting mistakes. Why not surprise your guests and open a few different bottles for your next gathering. Yes, there are many choices in life, so why limit our selves? Life is also full of adventures. Let’s make our wining and dining experiences part of that. The adventurous staff at Joy Wine and Spirits will happily assist in your wine buying choices. Please visit us at Joy Wine and Spirits, 1302 E 6th Avenue. (6th and Marion, 303-744-6219)
Corned Beef and Cabbage
Cook time: 4 to 6 hours
· 3 lb Corned Beef Brisket
1 large onion
6 cloves garlic
4 bay leaves
2 T black peppercorns
1 T mustard seeds
6 whole allspice berries
¾ gallon water
2 12-oz bottles of Guinness Stout (or your favorite stout)
1 medium head cabbage, cut into 1” x 1” chunks
Place beer and brisket in a large pot
Add water to cover brisket by 2 inches
Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil
Reduce to simmer and cook for 3 to 5 hours
1 hour before brisket is done, add cabbage and simmer with brisket until cabbage is soft and corned beef is tender
Horseradish Dijon Cream Sauce
Cook time: 25 minutes
¼ C minced shallot
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ C Chardonnay
2 C heavy cream
2 T Dijon mustard
1 ½ T prepared horseradish
4 T roux (equal parts butter and flour)
3 T sliced scallion
Salt and pepper, to taste
In small pan, prepare roux by melting butter slowly and adding flour. Stir for 5 minutes, until flour develops a slightly nutty smell, set aside
In sauce pot, sauté shallot and garlic until translucent
Deglaze with Chardonnay and reduce for 5 minutes
Add cream and simmer for another 5 minutes
Whisk in roux in small amounts until sauce reaches creamy consistency
Add in horseradish. Dijon and scallion to sauce
Season with salt and pepper to taste
Serve over Corned Beef
Mashed Potatoes with Scallions and Haystack
· 3 large Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
½ stick butter
¾ C heavy cream
¼ C goat cheese
¼ C sliced scallions
Salt and pepper, to taste
Boil potatoes until soft
Mash with butter and cream
Fold in goat cheese and scallions
Season with salt and pepper to taste