Every Saturday, before I go grocery shopping, I plan roughly 3-4 meals that I will cook that week. I try to plan meals based on what is on sale, what I can get leftovers out of, and what is in season. Sometimes, I am creative enough to think of a theme or stick to one kind of food/cuisine so that my wine can pair with everything, but that rarely happens. This past week was a busy one, so my theme was “quick and easy.” SkinnyMS has a ton of quick and easy weekday dinners that require few ingredients, so I decided to cook her One-Pot Black Pepper Chicken. There are very few ingredients, most of which I already had on hand, so I was thankful when I walked in after a busy day that dinner would not take much effort.
While minimal effort was necessary, you couldn’t tell from the end product. This was a fantastic meal! The black pepper provided just enough spice to ward off people who don’t like spice, but tickle the taste buds of those that do. Combined with the honey, vinegar, soy sauce mix, the chicken was both sweet and sour in the best possible way.
Before going into the pairing, let me sing the praises of this Italian white wine. Ceretto “Blange” Vineyards produced this 2014 Langhe DOC Arneis (an Italian grape located in the Piedmont area). The wine has a bit of CO2 in it to create a slight bubble. This is not a bubbly wine like Champagne or Prosecco, but has just the tiniest amount of carbonation. This bubble adds a nice crispiness to the wine, making it easily drinkable on a hot summer day. Lemon and lime add a zesty citrus taste, and tart green apple helps to balance it all out. Honey adds a little sweetness. I loved this wine so much that I think I am going to go back to the store and buy another bottle. I want to drink as much of it as I can before the weather gets cold and I no longer crave refreshing, crisp, white wines.
Ok…back to the pairing. Full disclosure, I did not plan this at all. Blange was already open, so I figured, why not drink it with the Black Pepper Chicken? I tasted the food first. Oh my…so good! Sweet, sour, and spicy. Yum! I enjoy spicy foods, so the near tablespoon’s worth of black pepper didn’t bother me. Then I tried the wine. Wait…why am I not tasting it? Did the wine’s flavor disappear? Where did it go? Come back, wine flavor! You were so good when I had you the other day! Why can I not taste you now?
Turns out, the black pepper totally masked the flavor profile of the wine. What I loved about the meal killed what I loved about the taste. Often, sweet(ish), carbonated wines like Rieslings, Gruner Veltliner, or Gewurtztraminer go well with stir-fries and spicy dishes. While this wine was not sweet, it was similar to the above mentioned wines and I thought it would stand a chance with the meal. I ended up drinking the last few drops of the bottle, but couldn’t taste most of it. I am not only disappointed that this pairing didn’t work, but very much saddened and in mourning. I wasted the last few drops of the bottle because of a mis-pairing. Well, I guess the silver lining is that I am forced to buy another bottle so that I can retaste the wine!
I give this pairing 2 grapes. I couldn’t justify giving 1 grape to a meal or a wine that was this good.
Wine: Dominion Wine & Beer ($21)