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Merisha Spisak – Pianetta Staff & Local Foodie

Not a lot of people (let’s be honest, no one) has the time and ability to make a perfect paired five course tasting dinner every night. Most people find their busy lives cause them to make choices between checking off items on their to-do list, being a present parent, finishing that project at work, etc. and finally, rustling up enough items to make dinner. So, to decrease the stress of piling your unfinished work to another busy day’s to-do list, that homemade dinner with all fresh ingredients that you know will pair perfectly with a nice bottle of wine is put off for another day, and the box in the freezer is pulled out for a quick easy meal. But should that coveted glass of wine, so desired after a long day, be enjoyed with the box meal? Before the meal? After the meal? Should you ditch the wine and go with something like beer because it goes with pizza? Well, these are some of the questions that were answered during our Facebook LiveOut of the Box Pairings”.

First thing to know about pairing wine and food is it indeed is a science! Just ask John Pianetta or any chef. They will discuss the balancing of fats, acids, and salts. In food, salt enhances flavor, fats amplify flavor and provide texture, and acid can brighten and balance flavors. Not surprisingly these are the simple elements that lead to perfectly paired food and wine. Acidity in wine can help balance food by “cutting through” the flavor and lessoning the impact it may have overall. But all this science talk is not supposed to complicate pairings further or scare anyone away from thinking they cannot make the perfect pairing with more simple ingredients. These are simply some of the terms that will be used to describe why the wine and food pair well together and what to look for when trying to balance these flavors. What kind of pairing do you want? Do you want the flavors to meld into one cohesive flavor? This type of pairing where the flavors of both the wine and food change and perfectly balance each other giving you a feeling that these two foods were made for each other. This is result we discovered when we paired chardonnay with rice crispy treats. The sweet and buttery taste of the desert combined perfectly with the slightly oaked chardonnay left a soft pillowy feeling on the palate and just a slight sweet and buttery taste. There was enough acid in the wine to cut through the fat and sugar in a way that mellowed both. Similarly, when we paired the Pianetta 2020 Pinot Noir with BBQ potato chips the sweet mesquite flavor was diluted by the acidity in the wine to soften both flavors. The salt in the chips enhanced the deep flavor of the Pinot Noir.

What about foods that have acidity to them? If it hasn’t been made very clear by this point, balance is key in pairing wine, so you would not put an acidic wine with an acidic food. We used tomatoes in marinara sauce as an example of acidity in food. We paired a meatball sub and mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce with the 2020 Jug Wine. The lower acidity and more fruit forward blend balances nicely with the acidity in the tomato sauce. This is the same concept as when we paired the 2018 Barbera with the corndog with honey mustard. The vinegar in the mustard acts the same as the tomato did with the acidity and the Barbara balanced out the vinegar and the sweetness of the honey balances the herb notes in the wine. Do you love buffalo wings? Great! Drink it with our 2019 Zinfandel! The acidity of the vinegar and the spice really blend well with the fruit of the Zin and the meat balance the slight astringency. But wait… There’s more!! What if you don’t want your food and wine to stand up to each other? We have those pairings for you also! The Zinfandel was paired with jalapeño poppers. The jalapeno spice balanced with the deep fruit of the wine and the cream cheese actually emphasized the brightness making a lovely contrast with the astringency. This is the kind of pairing you make when you want the food to be good and make the wine pop!

To Summarize….What are rules for a good pairing? 1. Pick a wine you love! 2. Balance wine and food by combining opposing flavors or acidity levels. Sweeter wine with spicy food Fruit forward wine and higher acidity food Acidic wine and creamy or sweet food 3. Pair a bold wine with non-competing flavor a. Ex: Pianetta 2018 Syrah with mozzarella sticks (no sauce) 4. Experiment and have fun! A pairing you love might be something no one else will eat, but as long as you like it that’s all that matter


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