Archive for the ‘chicken and wine’ Category

Another Great Value from Spain

monteI know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: no other country beats Spain for great tasting, great value wines.

The wine that’s got me going again is from Bodegas Borsao, a winery that specializes in the Garnacha grape (“Grenache” to the rest of the wine world). They make many spectacular wines such as Borsao (the baby brother — read my review here), and Tres Picos (the muscular uncle). All of Bodega Borsao’s wines are the darlings of wine critics: they share a boatload of “Best Buy” and 90+ ratings from all the Critics Wine Drinkers Really Listen To.

Monte Oton 2009 is made from grapes grown high on the slopes of an extinct volcano in Spain’s Borja region, where a lot of sunshine and a very little rainfall produce grapes with intense, focused flavors. You get the concentration right away with this wine, and much more complexity than you’d expect at this price point.

The nose offers rich berry fruit, with cherry snuggling up to plum and a little spice creeping in on the backside. The palate is full-bodied but mellow, with more ripe cherry and blackberry fruit. Just when you think it’s simple and tooty-fruity, a zingy, wild, peppery note kicks in on the

Monte Oton was a lot of fun to drink, even though I happened to be eating Thai Coconut Chicken with it. Who would think a peppery red would be palatable with creamy hot/sweet coconut curry? I didn’t, but it really worked. In fact, the experience really opened up my thinking on wine and food pairings.

Did I mention that you can pick up a bottle of Monte Oton for around $10. That’s what I mean about Spanish Value. If you want to find more, look for anything from Spain with the imprint of “Jorge Ordonez Selections” on the back label. This importer has put together an absolutely amazing portfolio of wines, from $8 to $100 or more, and I haven’t found a stinker yet. I’m beginning to look at his imprint like a Seal of Approval…


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Yes, You Can Pair Chicken and Wine


It’s the meat that gets no respect.

It’s considered the “cheap” choice on restaurant menus, and the boring, cook-it-when-you-can’t-think-of-anything-better dinner choice.

But add some sauce and spice, pair it with the right bottle of wine, and you’ve got a great meal.

So invariably people ask me, “Which wine should I serve with chicken?” And I have to say… “It depends.”

“Oh, right,” you say. “I knew it couldn’t be simple.”

But is. Because there’s really only one Tried and True Rule of Food and Wine Pairing.

Before I unveil this Guiding Principle, let me walk you through a little case study. Let’s say you’re cooking Chicken Parmesan, with a rich Marinara Sauce and some melted cheese. What’s the dominant flavor? What stands out in your mouth? Is it the taste of the chicken breast, or the taste of the tomato sauce?

And if you cook an elegant Chicken Piccata, drizzled with Lemon Butter Caper Sauce, what do you taste? You taste the lemons and capers, if you cook it the way I do.

So the dominant flavor of any dish is the sauce or the spicing, not the base meat or vegetable.

Aha! Now you see where I’m going. If someone asks, “Which wine should I pair with chicken,” I ask, “How are you preparing it?” If they say, “With Parmesan Sauce,” I go for a red: maybe a lighter Italian red such as Barbera or a Toscano blend; maybe a Spanish Tempranillo or Garnacha; maybe a Malbec from Argentina. The point is that I want to drink a red to complement the tomato sauce, and especially a red with some acid to match the acid in the tomatoes.

That’s not too complicated, right?

So let’s do the Picatta Chicken. I want a wine that can stand up to tart lemon and tangy capers, so I’ll go with a crisp, dry white. I don’t want an oak-aged wine like Chardonnay, because it won’t set off the lemon. I think I’d like a Sauvignon Blanc, or a European white. How about a Pinot Grigio? Or how about a dry Greek white? Greek cooking uses a lot of lemons, so we know it’ll work.

It’s that simple.


There are other considerations, and rules of thumb that folks have discovered by trial and error. But it’s not rocket science. Say, what wine do you think they should drink on rocket ships? We’ll talk about that next time. Cheers!

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The Wine Lady’s Wine Survival Training:Pairing Food and Wine.

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