KaTrina Wentzel

KaTrina Wentzel is a co-owner (with her husband, Paul) of The Wine Thief & Ale Jail in St. Paul. Along with her love of wine and travel, she bides her time teaching English at Mounds Park Academy and raising her fabulous children, who have been known to swirl and smell their milk.

Posts about Wine and Food Pairings

Tuesday Tasting: Oak Grove Viognier 2009

Posted by: KaTrina Wentzel Updated: August 16, 2011 - 12:36 PM

My focus is good wine on a budget for everyday people. So every Tuesday I’ll post a wine-of-the-moment with simple tasting notes and a recipe pairing. The notes won’t be overly detailed or profound, but they’re not meant to be. Instead, they’re meant to be fun with a bit of insight into some bottles worth exploring. Enjoy!

 

 

Always for the lookout for budget wines, this Viognier made me smile. It delivers all of that rich, ripe, floral-tropical-honey-apricot flavor of its more expensive cousins, while keeping it honest with lemon-orange acidity and a hint of oak on the finish. Rich and full, it’s great with orange chicken from your favorite Chinese take-out. Around $9.

 

 

 

 

 

Tastes like:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tropical fruit, apricot, honey, orange twist, lemon zest

 

Drink with:

 

 

Orange Chicken

 

 

Pairing Wine

Posted by: KaTrina Wentzel Updated: July 22, 2011 - 9:18 PM

 

Even a simple garden picnic is enhanced by wine pairing ...

Even a simple garden picnic can be enhanced by a nice wine pairing ...

Food and wine go together like, well, food and wine. Many of us can remember a perfect pairing where the food and wine matched in a way that both managed to make the other taste amazing. We can also probably remember a time where a really off pairing made either the food or the wine (or both) taste totally funky. But how important is pairing wine with food? Is it more art or science? And honestly, is it really necessary? 

 

There are, of course, there are many schools of thought here. I tend to fall in the middle: pairing wine with food when possible is nice. It helps present a great food experience. But ultimately it's just one piece of a good meal. I can't tell you how many times I had what I considered the best bottle of wine or food pairing, only to buy the wine or try to create the pairing at a later date to be disappointed. Why? Because the meal or bottle I enjoyed so much was with friends or family and an entire experience. It was a night full of laughter, good company, intellectual conversation (or not), and the food and wine never tasted so good. Or the music was good. Or the weather. Or the space. Or any number of things that made me enjoy myself. The realty is if the wine is decent, the food is decent, and the overall experience is good, I don't overanalyze. I don't continually swish and smell my wine, I don't try to even out my bites of food with sips of wine, I don't expound upon the notes of cocoa or bramble. I enjoy my here and now with whomever I'm with, and chances are, unless the wine pairing is completely off, I enjoy both the wine and food.

Still, a bad pairing—whether for a "special meal" or pizza night—can dim the meal. Trying to pair wine when possible will increase your overall experience, so why not try? Plus, I must admit, it can be really fun—and it's a wonderful way to increase your wine knowledge. Unfortunately the simple "whites with fish and poultry and reds with red meat" doesn't always work in this fusionistic world of cuisine we now live in.  There are many pairing "rules"  you can read about—in fact, so many that spreadsheets and flow charts might be necessary—but my husband and I have narrowed it down to three simple ones. We call them our 3 Rules for Food and Wine Pairing. Clever, right?

1. Start with what you like.

Don't drink a wine you don't enjoy just because it's "supposed" to be good with a certain dish. Instead, start with what you enjoy.

Comparison: Have you ever grudgingly invited people over that you don't care for because everyone else says they're fun? Sometimes it's best just to stick with the friends you know will make you smile and laugh all night.

 

2. Consider the weight and preparation of the food.

Heavy foods pair with full-bodied, bolder wines while light foods pair with light-bodied wines; a poached chicken salad, for example, doesn't carry the same weight as a jerk chicken. Consider the wine as a condiment of sorts for the dish, thinking about the sauce or seasoning. If you would add lemon as a condiment, how about a wine with notes of citrus? If you would add BBQ sauce, how about a smokey, jammy red?

Comparison: Sumo wrestler in a tutu? A flute and tuba duet? Yeah, it doesn't work for us either...

  

3. Aim for balance.

Wine shouldn't overpower food, nor should food overpower wine. Balance can be achieved by matching flavors (an earthy Pinot Noir with mushrooms? A citrus-filled Sauvignon Blanc with fish?) or by pairing opposites (spicy foods often pair wonderfully with sweet or fruity wines).

Comparison: Our friends Dan and Leslie are very similar. They love each other. My husband Paul and I are very different. We love each other, too. Love is good... and so is wine.

 

Do you have a favorite pairing? Our favorite at the moment is Sancerre and goat cheese. If you haven't tried it, I can't recommend it enough! 

Tuesday Tasting: Gine Gine Priorat 2008

Posted by: KaTrina Wentzel Updated: July 19, 2011 - 11:17 AM

My focus is good wine on a budget for everyday people. So every Tuesday I’ll post a wine-of-the-moment with simple tasting notes and a recipe pairing. The notes won’t be overly detailed or profound, but they’re not meant to be. Instead, they’re meant to be fun with a bit of insight into some bottles worth exploring. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Not many of us can afford a pricey bottle of Spain's famed Priorat, but grab this 91 pointer (Wine & Spirits) and you’ll feel like you sneakily grabbed something mismarked from the splurge section of a store. A blend of Carignan and Garnacha (Grenache), this introductory Priorat is full of bright concentrated fruit, ripe tannins, and silky texture—all of which make it an extremely versatile food wine. Both bright and dense, you’ll get deep flavors of black currant, dried fig, stewed plum, and a hint of cinnamon and black tea. With solid acidy and a medium body, this wine doesn't get too big for its britches, but instead offers a great introduction to a unique wine region in Spain. Around $20.

 

  

Tastes like:

 

 
 
 
 

black currant, dried fig, stewed plum, cinnamon, black tea

 

Drink with:

 grilled sausages 

 

Stewed plum image courtesy of Jane Maynard 

 



Tuesday Tasting: Chateau de Lascaux Rouge 2008

Posted by: KaTrina Wentzel Updated: July 12, 2011 - 9:54 AM

 

The caves of Lascaux root us to a primal, early ancestor in a time where having a piece of chalk was a really, really big deal. Chateau de Lascaux, though not as ancient, is also tied to a time long ago and it shows in this Syrah/Grenache blend from the Languedoc region of France. Earthy and deeply flavored, you’ll also get robust flavors of meat, smoke, dark plum and mineral, with peppery and spicy notes. Around $16.

 

 

 

 


Tastes like:

 

 
 
 
 

 plum, smoke, meat, black pepper, spice

 


Drink with:

 Steak Tartare 

 

My focus is good wine on a budget for everyday people. So every Tuesday I’ll post a wine-of-the-moment with simple tasting notes and a recipe pairing. The notes won’t be overly detailed or profound, but they’re not meant to be. Instead, they’re meant to be fun with a bit of insight into some bottles worth exploring. Enjoy!

Tuesday Tasting: Zuccardi Serie A Malbec 2009

Posted by: KaTrina Wentzel Updated: June 27, 2011 - 10:01 PM

 

Zuccardi Serie A Malbec

 


Familia Zuccardi Serie A Malbec is an intense wine of color, aromas, and flavors. 80mph intense. Two-minute-warning-have-the-ball-down-by-three-points intense. Double rainbow intense. You’ll be overcome with red ripe fruits like plums, blackberries, and raspberries, but somehow it will balance with hints of soft vanilla oak. Complex with a long (what else?) intense finish, it’s a great partner to big meats, especially if they’ve been on the grill. Around $11. 

 

 

 

 

Tastes like: 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

plums, blackberries, raspberries, vanilla, oak

 

 

Drink with:

 

grilled steak

My focus is good wine on a budget for everyday people. So every Tuesday I’ll post a wine-of-the-moment with simple tasting notes and a recipe pairing. The notes won’t be overly detailed or profound, but they’re not meant to be. Instead, they’re meant to be fun with a bit of insight into some bottles worth exploring. Enjoy!

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