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Dan Berger: Wines to go with complex dishes

Chefs love to try novel combinations of flavors, and in the last couple of decades we have seen such things as Asian Fusion, Greek-Mexican Fusion, and French-Peruvian Fusion.

And for wine lovers, it all means Con-fusion.

In years past, you'd go into a restaurant and order seafood with b?rnaise sauce and be happy with a nice bottle of chardonnay. Now the fish comes with something other than b?rnaise. Perhaps it's been replaced by a Dolcetto-dosed cilantro nantua sauce.

And the question is: should you order a Gruner-Veltliner or a Pinotage?

Thanks, monsieur le chef.

Well, fortunately, at the new palaces of culinary arts, most of the time the servers can tell you what's in some of these preparations, and then even recommend a wine to go with it. But not always.

And the recent craze for Asian flavors and "sauces" that are little more than vinegar mean that traditional wines may well be the wrong thing. Vinegar and wine rarely work together very harmoniously.

As a result, the once easy-to-pair dish (i.e., Halibut Florentine) now calls for a radical choice.

One such preparation I had recently was made with tangerine-based vinegar seasoned with ginger and sweetened. The sugar was the foil. What to do?

Fortunately, the restaurant had a slightly sweet Muscat by the glass, and it worked well with the sweet-ish dish. The slight sweetness in the wine helped balance the sugar in the sauce.


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