Food and Wine: An Appetizer/Chardonnay Pairing


Take this dish and add avocado slices

I told you the other day that a bunch of us got together to taste Oregon Chardonnay. I wanted to pair the wine with a food that would bring out its best, but I hem’ed and haw’ed  because I knew these would be un-oaked or very lightly oaked Chardonnays. I couldn’t fall back on my usual appetizers: things with caramelized onions, creamy cheeses, sauteed sweet peppers and the like. Those foods match the richer, oakier Chardonnays I often serve.

So what’s a girl to do?

Why, make something up, of course.

I started with Seared Scallops. They don’t have a heck of a lot of flavor by themselves, but if you sear them nicely in butter the caramelizing adds a nice punch. Then I chose some avocado slices for the contrasting color and flavor — but not just “naked.” After I sliced them I splashed them with fresh-squeezed lime juice and some coarse sea salt. I let them sit for a while, too, so the lime and salt could work their magic. The citrus juice keeps them from oxidizing, or turning brown. It also cuts that overly-rich flavor that plain avocado has.avocado

When I plated it (TV chefs put a lot of emphasis on “plating” things), I placed some greens under the whole thing, just for presentation points. And if my garden chives hadn’t succumbed to the frost, I’d have stuck a few sprigs in there somewhere.

So here’s what I had: the delicate flavor of the scallops with a hint of smoke and caramel, contrasted with the richness of the avocado cut by a hint of citrus. And it worked! It complemented the Oregon Chardonnays (A to Z 2008 and Rex Hill Willamette 2007) without overpowering the wines.

I had a lot of fun creating this pairing, and I’ll be offering more food and wine suggestions soon. In the meantime, be sure to fill me in on any great ideas you have on this subject.


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