24 April, 2013

The Terrors of Pairing

Pairing suggestions on wine bottle labels is a great idea for those of us who haven't a clue, like me, what is best to eat with a wine I've never tasted before.

cupcake chardonnayI had picked up on a BevMo 5¢ sale (buy one and the second bottle only costs 5¢!), bringing home several whites to beat the summer heat. One of them was a 2010 Cupcake Chardonnay.

When I got ready to open the Cupcake I noticed the back label had pairing suggestions on it.

“Serve chilled with crab cakes, seared Ahi tuna on waffle crackers or fresh baked French bread and cheese”.

Initially, I wondered just how dedicated they were to actual pairing, as everyone and their grandmother knows about the cheese thing, even if molded cheese can be a taste eliminator of subtle flavors in some red wines, but we were talking white. Mulling it over I decided to be impressed by the company’s attempt to educate its interested drinker’s with these mini menus, and to try their advice.

I knew I would enjoy the Ahi – love the stuff.

However the crab gave me pause; first, let me say I’m not a big fan of shellfish, so right off the bat I had misgivings when Cupcake vineyards suggested crab cakes as a pairing possibility. However, I am an experimenter at heart and was feeling particularly courageous, so I decided to try it.

JapaneseSpiderCrabI’ve enjoyed Chardonnay with many dishes, especially lately on our hot Californian afternoons, but for some reason this exoskeletal proposal stuck in my mind. You don’t think it could have anything to do with my arachnophobia, do you? All those legs (count ‘em) and that hard shell… *shudder*. Really, whatever possessed people to eat giant spiders from the sea in the first place? It reminds me of that movie (which I never saw), called “Arachnophobia”. I wondered then, did they honestly hope it would be a blockbuster? Way too many people are freaked out about spiders to want to see it over and over… or at all. And that poster! You know, that one? Yeah, this one:

arachnophobia movie posterThat’s me, in the background, screaming for the hills.

But you think a little phobia could stop me from enjoying a glass of chardonnay?


I worked up the nerve and made crab cakes; the verdict? The wine was the best part of the pair.

However, I see what they mean; the delicate blend of distinct flavors of the Cupcake, being fruity to start with a long woody finish, were not overpowered by the Trader Joe’s Maryland crab cakes. Much like sniffing coffee between perfumes or ‘cleansing’ ones palate with pickled ginger before another bite of sushi, the chardonnay made it possible to get through the meal by completely removing the fishiness with each sip.

salad with eggI’m trying the tuna next. I know I will like that, and now that I know what the Cupcake has to offer, I’m confident the pairing will be excellent, though probably without the waffle crackers. Ahi atop a mixed green salad, complete with six minute egg on top, sliced open to drool out like a Hawaiian volcano is more my style. Ah, I hear screaming : )

So the pairing suggestions on the label idea is GREAT! Just don't rely on it to be rocket science. There will always be someone out there who will have a problem with the combination. Everybody’s different. Just like wine.

But for those of you NOT in love with seafood of any kind, stick with the cheese! Or better still, have a cupcake with this Cupcake.


No comments:

Post a Comment