Pairing Kosher Wines with Pasta Dinners

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Last week, Jay Buchsbaum, wine educator for Royal Wine, mentioned the health benefits of drinking a glass or two of wine daily. The question is how do we go about it? Jay gives us a crash course in food & wine pairing:

Q: Jay, I’m sure many people would like to work wine into their lives on a daily basis but don’t know how to start. What’s the best way to go about it?

A: When you plan your week’s dinners, plan the wines to go with it. Let’s say you have fish on Sunday night, meat on Tuesday, the special on Thursday. Just think through which wines will go with them and include those in your shopping list.

Q: Actually Jay, soon will deliver wine along with your order. So it will be easy to pair your dinner with a wine that will enhance it. But most of us don’t know which wines go best with specific foods. There seems to be some mystique about it. Can you enlighten us?

A: I can make you a wine expert in just 10 seconds flat! Forget the hocus-pocus. The basic principle is that fuller bodied wines – your strong dry reds mainly -- are for heavier foods; and lighter wines go with lighter foods. Think of it as harmony in a recipe. For example, no matter how much salt you like to use, you don’t want it to be the prominent flavor. It’s the same with wine: you want the wine to be in harmony with the dish you’re serving, not overpowering it. They simply should taste good together.

Q: And taste, as we know, is a matter of taste.

A: Of course. If you think a particular wine goes well with a certain food, go for it. Don’t worry about the rules.

Q: I am not a rules in the kitchen girl by any means but let’s not be so abstract, why don’t you give us some specific pairing recommendations. Ready to start?

A: OK. The search engine is on.

Q: Milchig (dairy) pasta.

A: Four wines come to mind -- three white and one red:

1. Sauvignon Blanc --Goose Bay winery in New Zealand makes one that is dry, but fruity and fresh, sort of a sweet lemon dry. It would be great with a salmon pasta dish.

2. Baron Herzog Chardonnay from California: Compared to the Sauvignon Blanc, it has fuller body, more fruit, and it’s drier in one respect. But it’s what we call “rounder,” that is softer and slightly less acidic on the tongue. If your pasta’s got a white cream sauce, as in Fettucine Alfredo, it’s perfect.

3. Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc would be good if the pasta has a creamy tomato sauce with a slight acidic kick and some sweet overtones. It’s a little off-dry.

4. Chianti would be best with a rich, heavy tomato sauce. This is a red wine from Tuscany. Try Bartenura Ovadia Estates Chianti for that dish.

Q: It’s not the basic food in the dish that matters. It’s the way you prepare it that decides which wine would bring out its best flavors.

A: Now you’ve got it! It’s a question of the predominant flavor. Pasta by itself is neutral. But it makes all the difference if you serve it with tomato sauce, cream sauce or combined with another ingredient with a strong taste.

Q: Next week, I want to ask you about pairing fish and wine. That’s more complex, isn’t it?

A: We’ll swim right into it. It’s easier than you think.

Do you have any Kosher Wine questions for Jay, our wine expert? He would love to answer them. Please leave your questions and comments in the comment section below. L'Chaim!