While we don't make it very often, one of my favorite meals has become homemade pitas. We cook up some ground pork, I'll make the pita bread from scratch and Jamie will mix up some tzatziki. We'll cut up fresh veggies and sometimes make a spicy sauce, this time with fresh hot peppers from the farmers' market. And I also looked for a good bottle of wine that would pair well with the freshness of the cucumbers, the savoriness of the meat and even possibly the heat of the spicy sauce. I call it Greek food because that's what it makes me think of, even though I know it may not strictly speaking be Greek at all.
Therefore, my first thought was to go with a Greek wine. A nice Assyrtiko would work well, I thought. It has a nice salinity that would compliment the veggies while still having a bit of body that would work with the meat and acidity to deal with the spice. It was also hot out and I knew a good, refreshing white would be preferable to any sort of red. However, my local store that typically has a decent Greek selection was sadly lacking that day. But I knew I definitely wanted something with similar characteristics. So I picked up a Muscadet, a lovely and simple white wine from the Loire Valley in France.
Upon returning home I realized I had forgotten there were still two open bottles of Spanish white wine in the fridge from a dinner we had done a few days before. This was certainly a twist. But then I thought, while the other bottles weren't completely fresh, what better opportunity to test out different pairing combinations to see which wine worked best?
Lastly, the muscadet I bought for the occasion, which turned out just lovely. There was a good balance of acidity and it wasn't too overpowering. The fruit, more on the citrus side, complimented the savoriness of the dish nicely. And the meal turned out very nicely, too. Very tasty, indeed. So, to recap:
- I don't pair food and wine all the time. I would love to, but it's often inconvenient or requires more planning than I remember to do, and that's ok. It makes me yearn for (and understand) the concept of "what grows together, goes together." It certainly makes pairing a lot easier when you don't have to think about what to buy. You would buy what was local because that was what was available.
- I like trying different pairings. The best way to learn what goes best together is to experiment. While there is no doubt that same pairings work, it may be surprising to learn about others. I wasn't sure about my muscadet and pita hunch--and I'm glad it turned out well--but if I never tried it I would never have known.
- When I do have the foresight to work out a pairing, it almost always makes the experience better. While the wrong pairing doesn't necessarily ruin a meal, the right pairing can definitely enhance the meal. In this instance, the food was good on its own, and the first two wines were perfectly fine, but the third one was like an added component that enhanced already great flavors.
Do you pair wines with your food all the time? Or do you pick them each separately? If you do pair them, what's your method?