red meat, white wines, great taste
I’m breaking a rule. I’m pairing a white wine with red meat. The dish in question is a favorite of mine created by our very own Chef Kevin Sippel: a simply prepared roasted duck breast on a bed of charred baby Bok Choy garnished with some thinly sliced radish and a dusting of some sea salt. The Bok Choy adds a little char flavor, while the radish adds some earthiness, texture and freshness. This dish really relies on the quality and freshness of the ingredients due to its simple preparation, and normally people would look to pair this with a red wine because of the gaminess and fattiness of the duck.
In choosing a white wine, we need to think about a wine with a decent alcohol percentage and a body full enough to carry the weight of the duck. We also need some acidity to balance the fat of the breast and a fresh mineral character to cut the duck and lift the flavors of the veggies. My suggestion would have to be a white from Alsace or a special white from Umbria.
Alsace is, as all wine aficionados know, a region in Northeast of France bordering the Rhine River and western Germany where the Vosges Mountains to the east create a rain shadow effect that turns what would be a cool rainy area into one of France’s driest and warmest regions. The warmth and sunshine allow the grapes to ripen fully, and the granite and schist soils contribute the wines’ complexity, mineral character, and structure. Alsatian Pinot Gris have a spicy, peachy and mineral profile, and they have an oily texture with just enough acid to keep it fresh. Put this wine with the duck and you’ve got yourself a pairing that doesn’t overpower but allows both the flavors of the food and the wine to sing.
If I wanted an Italian white, I would go with the 2008 Paolo Bea Santa Chiara. This wine is amber color and has these beautiful citrus rind flavors that make your mouth water. Due to the extended maceration on the skins, the wine contains a little bit of tannin and more body, so it complements the protein and fat in the duck. To top it off, this wine has a beautiful freshness that carries all the flavors through to the mouthwatering finish. It’s spectacular white from Umbria, from a classy producer loaded with tradition and personality.
Of course, there are lots of other whites that will happily dance with meat. You want to keep in mind the basic principles that make these wines work: a higher percentage of alcohol, a fuller body, bouncy acidity, and a weighty taste profile. A sprinkling of tannins won’t hurt either. Rules are meant to be broken—what are your favorite wine rebellions?
(Photograph by Alamy comes courtesy of The Telegraph.)
photo credit: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/france/6950685/Insiders-guide-to-France-Alsace.html