May 25, 2011

Nontraditional Pairings


Fried chicken and waffles. Pop rocks and champagne. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. Pizza and Pinot Noir.

Yes, that's right. Pizza and Pinot Noir.

Don't all fantastic non-traditional pairings have at least one common element in the midst of the unusual match? Fried chicken and waffles both have crispy exteriors which give way to tender insides. Pop rocks and champagne both bubble up in your mouth. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss both tried unexpected things for themselves, but together. It was magic.

Admittedly, Pinot Noir isn't the first wine to come to mind when it's pizza night. But with a little masterful manipulation of the pizza ingredients to find those common elements,  nearly any wine will work with pizza. It's just a matter of what kind of pizza.

We worked with the Sarver 2008 Pinot Noir, a single vineyard Pinot Noir from the southern end of Oregon's Willamette Valley AVA. This Pinot Noir has a deep cherry fruit, dried rose petal floral notes, and good compost-y earthiness which calls out for crimini mushrooms. Crimini's, or "Baby 'Bella's" since they are really very young portabella mushrooms, are concentrated with a very similar damp organic matter flavor. This is a good start to creating a stellar pizza/Pinot pairing.

Another flavor element that connects food to many Pinot Noir's is oregano. I used a hefty dash of Mediterranean oregano over the top of this pizza. Thinly sliced red onion (to bring out a bit of earthy sweetness) and a few slices of smoked chicken sausage (Pinot Noir tends to love umami, heavily present in the sausage). Oregon's favorite mild, creamy Tillamook brand mozzarella brought it all together. And, here's the link to our favorite pizza dough recipe.

To further connect the food to the wine, we made a herbes de Provence vinaigrette for the Romaine wedges we served alongside the pizza.  The flowery quality of the herbes de Provence gave the final boost to link the plate to the glass, leaning into the rose-petal notes of the wine.

Herbes de Provence Vinaigrette

In a small recycled jam jar pour:

3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence
6 tablespoons of your best-quality olive oil

Screw the lid on tightly and shake. Dress salad greens with vinaigrette.

3 comments:

  1. This gets my vote for dinner done right. The addition of the Romaine lettuce and light dressing really rounds out the meal. Quite an enjoyable read.

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  2. This sure sounds like a perfect pairing to me!

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  3. Although we are usually of the beer and pizza persuasion, I appreciate the wine pairing suggestion. Pizza is a weekly staple at our house and now I can class things up a bit by busting out a bottle of pinot noir.

    Not that beer and pizza isn't classy...

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