Trials and Tribulations of Wine Pairing #1

By Ray Isle Posted March 26, 2007

Sometimes one opens one's freezer and finds nothing more than a quarter pint of refrozen ice cream and a half bag of frozen peas; then again, sometimes one opens one's freezer and comes across a bag of king crab legs that one has forgotten one has.

OK, enough of this "one" business. Point is, I'd forgotten I had these king crab legs and there they were, and since I also had on hand a ridiculous amount of fresh mint and cilantro (a problem anyone who buys fresh herbs will be familiar with), the most intelligent course of action was immediately to make this tasty curried crab salad.

The salad was as delicious as you'd expect—that is, as you'd expect based on the recipe, not necessarily based on my ability to make it. But this is all preamble to the main point here, which is about acidity. The arugula in Boulud's recipe is dressed very simply  with lime juice and olive oil. It's tart. It's zippy. One might think it would go best with a rich, round white for contrast.

In fact, acidic dressings like this one go best with similarly tart, zippy wines, for instance the Austrian Scheurebe I had open last night (a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would also have worked, or a good Assyrtiko from Greece). They need a wine whose flavors are tangy enough to slightly eclipse the zing of the dressing, in a sense.

To further test the merits of this theory, I also taste-tested my Scheurebe, along with a much rounder Pinot Gris, side by side with straight lime juice. The Scheurebe still tasted fine—it still tasted, not to put too fine a point on it—whereas the lime juice completely masked all the flavors of the Pinot Gris.

Now, admittedly, some people might find the idea of standing around alternately tasting wine and licking lime juice off your forefinger a strange one. And they're right. On the other hand, I could be standing around on a Sunday afternoon dreaming up crazy-ass stuff like this.

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