The wine & food pairing challenge

A colleague of mine (at my normal, pay the bills job) recently learned that I was taking wine tasting classes and asked me for wine recommendations. I decided to make a game out of it and told her to send me a list of dishes and I would come up with a wine for each entry. The idea was to limit myself to wines I’ve tasted recently (and for some of them, wrote about). Here are the results. I’ll try to get feedback on how it worked out. What do you think? Also, feel free to give me some more dishes to match, it’s one area I’m trying to get better !

Veal MarsalaCostamolino Vermentino di Sargegna, Sardinia, Italy

Eggplant parmesan (red sauce) : Vignole Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy

Chicken Broccoli Ziti (white sauce) : Pewsey Vale, Eden Valley Dry Riesling, Barossa Valley, Australia

Baked/broiled Salmon (with veggies)Raats Family Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Roasted Chicken : Nicky Pinot Noir, Hahn winery, Central Coast, California

Baked TurkeyPine Ridge Dijon Clones Chardonnay, Carneros, California

Curried/Thai Chicken : Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc & Viognier, Napa Valley, California

Beef Stew : Gnarly Dudes Barossa Valley Shiraz

Steak & mashed potatoesRib Shack Red, Western Cape, South Africa

Lamb chops : St Supery Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California

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Tasting Notes : Costamolino Vermentino di Sardegna 2012

Cantine Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino di Sardegna 2012

Region: Italy, Sardinia

Grape: 100% Vermentino

Price: around $15 online

Costamolino Vermentino

I had diner at Taranta, a Southern-Italian / Peruvian fusion restaurant in Boston’s North End. My friend ordered Amazonian white fish and I had orrechiete with spicy sausage. The food was excellent and I chose this wine mostly out of curiosity because I didn’t know the grape variety, not even by name. Vermentino is native to the Mediterranean, mostly the islands of Sardinia and Corsica, but also on the mainland like in Tuscany or Southern France (where it is called Rolle).

This particular wine comes from Sardinia, one of the three major Mediterranean islands (and the only one I haven’t been yet). The Vermentino grape is actually responsible for the first Sardinian DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, premium classified growing region) Vermentino di Gallura. The majority of the production, like the Costamolino I’ve had is sold under the basic DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) Vermentino di Sardegna. So, appellation wise, it’s an entry level wine, as the price reflects.

Eye : clear, pale to medium lemon with a tinge of green

Nose : clean, low to medium intensity. Citrusy notes along with a slightly herbal quality I can’t quite place, overall it’s very pleasant, one whiff of the nose and you feel like the first sip is going to be refreshing

Palate: medium acidity, light to medium body, low to medium length of finish

Yep, I was right, refreshing it is. The wine is very crisp, clean and refreshing without being too harsh. The lighter body and acidity are balanced and the flavors are a little surprising, the citrus  is there but there is clearly some white peach or other stone fruits. It makes the wine a lot fruitier than I expected without ruining the crisp, refreshing quality of the wine.

Food pairings: I had it with pasta in a creamy sauce; it worked out well because the freshness of the wine would cut the rich cream sauce. My friend was extremely satisfied by the pairing with a white river fish. I’d say this wine would work with a surprisingly wide array of dishes, I would stay away from red meat though.

Overall opinion: My discovery of the Vermentino grape was a pleasant one indeed, especially for a supposedly entry level wine. It’s a definite winner for summer days and evenings.