The Worst Wine and Food Pairing Ever! Vila Regia Douro 2008

I didn’t do this on purpose.

I planned my meal first, something I really like that I don’t often cook because my spouse isn’t all that wild about it. And then when I was halfway through cooking my dinner, I thought, “Oh my God, what wine am I gonna drink with this?”

Now, even though I’m in the wine business, I don’t have an inexhaustible supply of great wine lying around my house. Tonight was a case in point — I had a few sample bottles to choose from, and I had no idea what they tasted like.

So I held my nose and jumped off the high diving board, and here’s what happened…

The entree I was so keen to prepare was a Thai Chicken dish. If you want to hurt me, you’ll remind me that I always say you should match your wine to the dominant flavor in your dish, and in the case of this Thai dish, the dominant flavor is the coconut milk, lime and cilantro that make up the sauce. There’s a wonderful interplay of sweet, tart and aromatic that is luscious and exotic, but I didn’t know how it would pair with my available wines.

I looked at the two wines I had on hand. One was a Chilean Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which I figured had to be earthy and tannic and a truly awful match with the coconut milk. The other was a red table wine from Portugal, which I’d requested from my distributor because I’d heard that Portugal is now doing some good red table wines. It seemed like a better bet than the Cab, so I popped the cork.

And it wasn’t pretty. Vila Regia Douro 2008 would be a great wine to enjoy in many circumstances — but not this one. It clashed with that lovely coconut milk like vinegar clashes with cream cheese.

I did some research, and discovered that the Douro region of Portugal is the birthplace of Port, the fabulous fortified wine of Portugal. In fact, Vila Regia includes several of the grapes used in Port production. So does it taste anything like Port?

Not a bit. The nose doesn’t communicate any discernible fruit — I struggled to identify something that smells like wet wood with a hint of mushroom. The palate is Old World all the way: there’s tart astringency first, and then a mineral aftertaste. Black pepper jumps out, along with a chalky finish and a hint of pencil shavings.

And did I mention I drank this with sweet, rich coconut milk and cilantro???

The clash of flavors was like two cars hitting head-on in a tunnel. I gave up really quickly, and ate my Thai food with no wine accompaniment. Then I tried to focus on the Portugese wine. If I had to create a food pairing for Vila Regia, I think it would be something like olives and sardines. I don’t love olives, and I really hate sardines (they’re fishy, slimy little devils), but I think this wine needs these strong, savory flavors to stand up to it. As luck would have it, that’s just the kind of food common in parts of Portugal, so I’m sure Vila Regia makes a great wine pairing on its own turf.

So here’s a lesson learned: think first and cook later! Then you’ll never have to endure my sweet vs. chalky pairing. Cheers!

  • Share/Bookmark

Leave a Reply


Wine Accessories

Switch to our mobile site