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Pairing Food and Wine: Selecting right combination for serving and cooking

  • Pairing-Food-and-Wine-Selecting-right-combination-for-serving-and-cooking

    The Andersons offers a variety of white wines.

  • Pairing-Food-and-Wine-Selecting-right-combination-for-serving-and-cooking-2

    Nick Kubiak of The Andersons holds a pizza that can be enjoyed with fruit forward red wines.


The Andersons offers a variety of white wines.


There s an art to pairing food and wine, whether you re cooking with wine in recipes or serving it by the glass.

With so many brands, varietals, and appellations both imported and domestic, it can seem daunting to select the right wine within any given price range.

To learn more about food and wine, attend the Great Taste Food Expo to be held Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at The Andersons Maumee store greenhouse.

I cook with what I m going to drink, says the store s wine manager, Nick Kubiak, who ll divide his time that day between the Food Expo and the wine department adjacent to the greenhouse entrance.

The wine expert has tips for the home cook. For example, there are regional recipes for coq au vin, the French dish of chicken in wine. For a recipe for coq au vin from Southern France, he would select a syrah. In the Burgundy region, I would use a pinot noir, he says. But I prefer an earthier wine, say from the Rhone Valley, which is not oaky and has a lower alcohol content of 12 percent.

Therein lies the distinction of choosing a wine to cook with: lower alcohol wine allows aromas to be accentuated. Higher alcohol evaporates when cooked and leaves a pungent flavor.


Nick Kubiak of The Andersons holds a pizza that can be enjoyed with fruit forward red wines.


Mr. Kubiak describes lower acidity as lending a juicy, velvet characteristic to wine, such as beaujolais.

I liken this to the concept of juicy red wines described in Williams-Sonoma Wine & Food by Joshua Wesson (Free Press, $29.95). The wine shows its best qualities when young, such as a gamay, which is the primary grape in the wines of Beaujolais.

But take note: there are two major styles: Beaujolais nouveau and cru. Cru beaujolais is deeper and more complex, says Mr. Kubiak. It comes from a smaller growing region and has a little more time in oak [barrels].

It s a popular companion to Thanksgiving meals with turkey, which is gamey, with its fruit flavor. Thanksgiving dinner has a plethora of different foods served at different temperatures. It s difficult to find one that goes with everything.

Each year beaujolais nouveau is released to be sold on the third Thursday in November. It s a long-lived tradition, post-World War II, that unifies the wine community [around the world], says the wine manager.

Pinot noir is another juicy red wine which the Blade used to taste Braised Beef with Herbs de Provence from Williams-Sonoma Wine & Food. The recipe takes time to prepare but has exceptional flavor.

Since the movie Sideways came out, more styles of pinot noir are produced, says Mr. Kubiak. He says the best region for pinot noir is Burgundy, France and the Willamette Valley in Oregon, which is 45 minutes south of Portland, as well as pockets of California. Pinot noir is thin-skinned grape which is inconsistent from vintage to vintage.

I put Mr. Kubiak to the test with pairing wine and food and even took a pizza into his wine department and said, let s pair wine and pizza.

For spicy foods, don t use wine with high alcohol content, he advised, quickly selecting a variety of wines from Dolcetto (Italian), Barbera (Piedmonte), and a California simple red blend with more fruit forward and softer and lower in acidity .

Big reds (wine) are tannic wines that need fatty foods such as wild game, duck, and steak., says Mr. Kubiak. The more tannins, the bigger the meal. Big reds spend some time in oak (barrels).

He notes there are two types of tannins: fruit tannins are from the wine skins and oak tannins are from the oak barrels.

Then there s the idea of having wine with barbecue. Sweet needs sweet such as a late harvest Zinfandel or syrah, which is hard to find, he says. Or a sweet and smoky food can be paired with Italian Valpolicella or Zinfandel.

He advises pairing regional cheeses and wines, for example, a Tuscan cheese with a Tuscan wine. An Irish cheese was a little more challenging because it s a white cheese, but a hard cheese. Acidity needs acidity, says Mr. Kubiak. Soft cheeses pair with anything. Hard cheeses can be paired with red wine.

White wine and Swiss cheese are always paired with Swiss fondue. I ve used everything from Sauvignon Blanc to Chardonnay (in a pinch) or even a pinot grigio to an inexpensive sauterne, which may seem like any oxymoron because French sauterne is a pricey wine.

Usually sauterne is a dessert wine. So it was a natural for Chef Rick Whitehead of Gladieux Catering to use sauterne in a dessert for the Junior League 75th Anniversary Gala tasting last week: Strawberries with Sauterne Cake, Olive Oil Ice Cream and Opal Basil. (The November 1 event is for members and sustainers.

Tickets at $175 each are available at the Junior League of Toledo at 419-474-6262.)

Chef Whitehead shared the recipe with the Blade. It s an elegant recipe for a large crowd.

White wines are served with appetizers or are wonderful to enjoy by themselves, especially if they are oak-aged. Chardonnay, if oaky, does not pair well with food, says Mr. Kubiak. Oak covers flavors of food.

Oakiness is unique to California. The Australians followed California in that style but are pulling away from that, says Mr. Kubiak who is a wealth of information.

White wine and fish are fantastic, he says. Pairing asparagus and a Hollandaise sauce with an Austrian Gruner Veltliner, which is a clean, crisp wine with great acidity.

It goes great with anything creamy or with lake fish like perch and walleye. Redder fish like mahi mahi can pair with red wine.

When the Blade tested Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Olives from Wine Country Cooking by Joanne Weir (Ten Speed Press, $22.50), we used a dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc for the delicious recipe.

Finally, the idea of chocolate and wine is a trendy combination that sparks the interest of cooks and diners at the holidays all the way to Valentine s Day.

Tawny port, ruby port and Italian Recioto are popular to combine with all those gourmet chocolates and then desserts. But take note: do not pair wine with a chocolate-peanut butter dessert or candy, advises Mr. Kubiak. It s challenging to pair sweet and salty.

You can imagine all the food and wine information that will be shared on Thursday at the Great Taste Food Expo at the Andersons Maumee store.

In addition to the wine vendors and Andersons wine department staff, two seminars will be focus on wine: At 11 a.m. Recognizing a Flawed Wine will be presented by Rebecca Geschwender, Diageo Estate Wine and at 4 p.m. Pairing Food and Wine with Heidelberg Distributing Wines. Throughout the day food seminars will also be featured.

Contact Kathie Smith at: or 419-724-6155.

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