Personal Wine Dinner — Second Course

Kennedy-Shah TempranilloWe always try to present a choice for the second course of our Personal Wine Dinners so those that don’t eat red meat still have an option. This presents a challenge for wine pairing in finding a single wine that complements two different dishes. Chuck is offering a choice of Rocky Mountain Elk, sauteed with Montana grown apple and white fig compote & lingon berry demi glace or a hearty seafood  dish with oriecchiette pasta, shrimp, calamari and mussels in a rich heirloom tomato broth. What says Fall in Montana more than Elk? And the hearty warmth of the seafood stew evokes autumn feelings of warmth and comfort.

One component often used to pair food and wine is acidity; both in the food and in the wine. People will often describe wines with firm acidity as “good food wines”, seeming to imply that only wines with a decent acid backbone will go well with food.

Au contraire, mon frere…

There are several approaches to food & wine pairing, and acidity is but one. The myriad of flavor and aroma components possible in wine allow for a wide range of pairing using flavors. You can try to complement the flavors of the food with similar flavors in the wine, or choose to create contrast. I got to thinking, what if we took a wine with very low acidity, and paired purely on flavor alone. There’s plenty of acid in the tomato broth with the seafood, and the lingon berry and apple bring decent acid to the Elk dish. We let the food bring the acid to the table, and pair the wine based on flavor alone. We want something with full body and big fruit, but not sweet.

Low acid, lots of fruit, bone dry, should have decent tannins so it doesn’t get overblown by the food…Tempranillo.

The “noble grape” of Spain has been a favorite of mine for years. A few are made here in the U.S., and I recently tried an intriguing Tempranillo from Washington. Woodhouse Wine Estates produces full-bodied, varietally correct wines under a series of labels named for the kids of Bijal Shah, the owner. The Kennedy Shah Tempranillo shows notes of plum, black cherry and cassis (great for the Elk); with a smooth texture and nice spiciness that go well with the tomato and seafood.


We’re offering this three-course Personal Wine Dinner Monday, September 12 through Thursday, September 15, 2011. Cost is $39 per person. Call 406-995-4111 for reservations.

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