One of the dishes served at a Wine Lovers International Dinner last week at the Eagle House in Williamsville was a peppery Chicken and Corn Chowder; a Chardonnay was to accompany it.
But, at the last minute, Willibald K. Frank, the winemaker of the evening and proprietor of the Konstantin Frank and Chateau Frank Winery in Hammondsport, suggested substituting a spicy/sweet Gewurztraminer.
It was a perfect balance to the heat of the chiles.
Which all goes to show that theories are great but experimentation and careful thought are the real secret to successful wine/food pairings.
Not to mention a spirit of adventure.
Here, for instance, are some "trial marriages" suggested by Cornell's Barbara Lang:
With spicy hot foods like the Corn Chowder or Chinese, Mexican or Indian food try slightly sweet whites like Rieslings or Chenin Blancs or dry white wines like Sauvignon Blanc.
If you want to serve a red wine go for low tannin, fruity wines like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir or light Zinfandels.
With rich, fatty foods -- meat dishes or oily fish with rich sauce, for instance -- try acidic or oaky whites like full-bodied Chardonnays.
If you want to go the red route, select tannic full-bodied red wines like Barolo, full-bodied Zinfandels, northern Rhone wines or Carbenets.
With acidic tart foods like some vegetable dishes or foods with tomato sauce try high acid wines such as Chianti or Valipolicella. Sparkling white wines also might be successful or a Sauvignon Blanc.
With salty or smoked foods, try these slightly sweet white wines: Rieslings, Chenin Blancs or Gewurztraminer.
Or try light fruity reds like Beaujolais, Pinot Noir or a light Zinfandel. With desserts, go for very sweet wines. White wines like late harvest Rieslings, Eiswein or Sauternes.
Ruby Port is a fine accompaniment to dessert, as well.
-- Janice Okun