Almost 99% of the time, when I plan my wine and food pairings for the week, I plan the meals first and then find a wine to go with them. So many wines can pair with a meal. I can usually find something on my wine rack that will go with what I am cooking. Planning a meal around my wine is more difficult for me. My brain doesn’t think that way. I haven’t been “studying” wine for very long, and I don’t know the nuances of wine as well as I do food. When thinking of a food, I can easily think of many wines to accompany it, but when I try to think of a food to go with a wine, I can only think of one or two possibilities. Usually, these food possibilities are lackluster and basic. So when I saw the gorgeous wine label of Anne Amie’s 2014 Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley, Oregon, I was excited to drink it, but unknowing of what to pair it with.
For starters, the wine label is just as beautiful as the taste. The color is that of Princess Aurora’s hair from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty; golden yellow with a whitish shine when the light hits it just so. On the nose is an exploding perfume of bright citrus. You can smell it as you are swirling the wine, even before your nose reaches the glass. It reminded me both of Meyer lemon bars and key lime pie all in one scent. After the initial citrus explosion was a softer, pear smell. On the palate, dried rose petals cut some of the tart citrus flavors. The wine had sweater flavors, but was quite dry.
I distinctly wanted to drink this wine because I was in the mood for something crisp. I turned to my What to Drink with What You Eat book (read my review here), trying to find some foods that would go well with Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Grigio). Pasta, chicken, and roasted vegetables all came up as foods that would make the the strongest pairings. I decided to make a chicken pasta salad, something that would be as fresh as the wine. Cooking Light recently featured this Roasted Chicken and Bow Tie Pasta Salad recipe, so I thought I’d give it a try.
This recipe can easily be adapted to use whatever you have in the fridge. Chicken, pasta, and vegetables are all you really need. This recipe included grapes, celery, fresh herbs, and walnuts. The dressing is made up of fresh orange and lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, and spices. I could also see adding roasted eggplant or roasted summer squash to the mix.
Because I am impatient and didn’t want to wait for the pasta salad to cool, we had this meal warm. To be honest, the meal is better cold, as most pasta salads are. Even so, it was fresh and refreshing. The citrus based dressing blended perfectly with the fresh chives and parsley in the dish. I love how the walnuts and celery added some crunch. Mr. Grape Pairings added some goat cheese, and he enjoyed that flavor. Feta would go well if you wanted to add that instead.
With the citrus of the dressing and the citrus of the wine, I found the pairing to be a bit too tart. Some bites were better than others. When walnuts or parsley were in the bite, the pairing was actually quite nice. Mr. Grape Pairings enjoyed the bites with goat cheese as well. I’d imagine that a this Pinot Gris would be even more delicious while snacking on nuts and cheese. However, when the bite had grapes or red onion, the abundance of acidity made my mouth pucker as if I ate too many Warheads. The bites with walnuts or parsley get a 4 grape pairing while the bites with grapes or red onion earned only 2. I’ll average the two out and make this pairing worth 3 grapes.
Wine: Anne Amie 2014 Pinot Gris ($18.99 @ Dominion Wine and Beer)
Book: What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea – Even Water – Based on Expert Advice from America’s Best Sommeliers by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page