Monday, April 7, 2014

Last of the Winter Reds

Winter is finally behind us. It's time to clear some of those big red wines from the rack, before the weather gets too warm to enjoy them.

 Normally, you might pair a red wine with a meat-heavy dish. But we like to mix it up every once in a while, and try red wine with a vegetarian meal, which would traditionally be matched with white wine. With the right preparation, those delicate vegetarian flavors can be coaxed into something deeper that can stand up to a red wine.

Carrots roasted with the spice Garam Masal and a bit of nutmeg, and then pureed with jalapeno peppers. The sweet and earthy carrots pick up a smoky flavor from being roasted with the Garam Masal. The jalapeno adds green vegetable flavors, and of course some heat. Complemented with some drop biscuits stuffed with shredded radish, kohlrabi and lettuce, you are looking at a very green meal, but stuffed full of spicy and earthy flavors. Perfect for a cool spring night to ward off the last winter chill. And perfect for a big spicy red like Syrah.

Pair like with like. That's a useful rule of thumb for pairing wine with food. In this case, the spicy flavors need something to either match them, to make them really pop on the palate, or something sweet and unctuous to help soothe your mouth between bites. The earthy, smokey flavors can easily overpower most wines, so you need a real full-bodied wine to match. Malbec or an Old Vine Zinfandel might have worked, but we went with Syrah. In this case, it might have been a bit too much spice, as both the food and the wine were a mouthful on their own, and created fireworks of blossoming heat when combined. But like a plate of spicy chicken wings, sometimes that's just what you crave to help remind you that the warmth is just around the corner. 

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