Odd Pair: Mangos and 2009 Alamos Torront├ęs

Categories: Odd Pair

The arrival of the warmer temperatures of March has put me in a springtime frame of mind. I suppose that's why I went a little overboard stocking up on tropical fruit last time I grocery-shopped. The mangoes proved to be particularly golden and juicy, especially for this time of year. I have had fun making tart slaws and sweet ice creams with these sunny little gems, but truly they are best eaten on their own -- and paired with a lovely bottle of 2009 Alamos Torront├ęs.

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Odd Pair: Taco Cabana's Shrimp Tampico Quesadilla & Pinot Gris

Categories: Odd Pair

I hate to admit that when Taco Cabana announces the return of the Shrimp Tampico quesadillas, happy little butterflies begin to float in my tummy. It's embarrassing, ridiculous and, sadly true.

Though I'd tried all week to fight the urge and seek out healthier food offerings, I found myself succumbing to the bright-pink drive-thru after a particularly rough day that left me wanting something fatty and quick. To help further reduce my stress, I decided to treat myself to a little wine while I indulged in my fast food dinner.

Elk Grove 2009 Pinot Gris wowed me with its fruitiness and drinkability. It's a little sweet, a little crisp, and it paired perfectly with the greasy, cheesy quesadillas. The quesadillas lessened the acidity of the wine while the wine played up the garlicky Shrimp Tampico.
This wine has an intense citrusy aroma, which proved to be an excellent match for the seafood filling.

It also will hold its own with spicier foods, allowing you to really pile on the jalapenos for maximum burnage. Perfecto!

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Odd Pair: Fried Chicken, Buttermilk Waffles, and Pinot Blanc

Categories: Odd Pair

Yes, I admit that this is more of an "odd trio" than "odd pair," but technically speaking, chicken and waffles is a singular dish and therefore qualifies in my opinion.

The easy pairing would be a dry bubbly Mimosa, which would work well with the fried chicken and waffles, but likely clash with the sticky sweet maple syrup. Therefore, I would be more likely to go with a dry, acidic white with a lot of earthiness and maybe even a little funk to it.

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Odd Pair: Heart-Shaped Cheese Pizza & Argiolas Costamolino

Categories: Odd Pair

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While it is a fact that shaping the pizza like a heart will not alter its taste one bit, it certainly does make it cheesier. Puns aside, I have a dreadfully wonderful tradition of ordering cheap, heart-shaped pizza on Valentine's Day.

This year, I wanted to find a wine that would really pair well with it, instead of my usual routine of picking up a bottle in the Kroger bargain bin and hoping for the best. That is where the 2008 Argiolas Costamolino comes in. This wine is a lovely, lesser-known white varietal that provides a refreshing fruitiness and zesty acidity that complements the rich, creaminess of the cheese pizza.

It's an immensely drinkable wine that is perfect for helping you suck down the doughy heart-shaped crust. And with the pizza and the wine each coming in at just about $10, you can have a memorably fun (but still tasty) meal for less than $20.

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Odd Pair: Chocolate Pop-Tarts and Brachetto d'Acqui

Categories: Odd Pair

Yes, toast-able breakfast pastries and wine. It's come to that.

I am not certain why Pop-Tarts have had an unlikely resurgence in my weekly food routine, but they have, and usually as a late night snack. That way I get the maximum amount of damage from the carbohydrate and sugar content.

To ease my guilt, I like to pair it with a lovely glass of sparkling red wine. I have found that the Banfi 2009 Rosa Regale Brachetto d'Acqui suits this purpose perfectly. The half-bottle size means I don't even have the option of completely over-indulging, and the $9.95 price tag makes me feel like I'm fiscally responsible.

The chocolaty center of the pop tart, especially when it's gone all gooey from toasting, pairs expertly with the intense raspberry rose sweetness of the wine. And the Brachetto d'Acqui's dense liquidity is a lovely match for the crumbly Pop-tart shell.

Mock me now, but one taste plus one sip, and you too will be hooked by this dark mistress of culinary evil.

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Odd Pair: Plum Wine and Pickles

Categories: Odd Pair

As I was enjoying my Japanese dinner party last week, I stumbled across a food and wine pair that was so odd, it actually worked. The wine was Choya Umeshu, which is an almost disturbingly sweet wine containing real plums floating within. Authentically Japanese, it's housed in a strange but useful bottle sealed with foil and with a pour spout. I wasn't sure why this would be necessary until I tasted it.

This is not a wine that you want to drink in large quantities. It is, however, excellent served in a small sipping glass with a side of spicy pickles. The tart acidity of the pickles combined with their spicy red pepper kick creates an excellent balance for the sweet plum wine that has a viscosity similar to that of thin simple syrup. The sweet, spicy, tart combination provides tons of fun of your palate, while the acidity does an excellent job slicing through that heady sweetness. Both the wine and the pickles are tasty enough on their own, but together the combination is truly inspired.

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Odd Pair: Pierogies & Moscato D'Asti

Categories: Odd Pair

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When you're asked to bring wine to a Ukrainian-themed dinner party, sometimes it takes a little research to find something appropriate. And by research, I, of course, mean drinking.

I had read that the doughy little potato bites known as pierogies were thought to pair well with a sweet, bubbly wine. With this knowledge, I bought a bottle of Saracco Moscato d'Asti 2009. Loaded with personality for only about $15 a bottle, this sparkler is generally a hit at parties. Thankfully, it was no exception this time.

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Odd Pair: Hot Buffalo Wing Pretzel Bites & Fume Blanc

Categories: Odd Pair

Although I hadn't even tried buffalo sauce up until last year (horror!), I am now obsessed with its tangy heat. Generally speaking, I don't eat much meat, which makes it difficult to enjoy the stuff. But I recently discovered these little bites of crunchy pretzel that are drenched with a zesty buffalo sauce flavor. To celebrate the occasion, I paired the zippy snack food with a bottle of 2009 Ferrari- Carano Fume Blanc from Sonoma County ($15).

The Fume Blanc is a crisp, fruit-forward white with delicate hints of melon, lime, vanilla, guava and grapefruit. It's almost like drinking a summery fruit salad, which is always enjoyable in a well-made wine. The complex fruit notes played well off the fiery pretzels, and the drinkability of the wine made it an excellent match for the salty snack. It was a fresh pairing that was richly flavorful, but not overly heavy, which is certainly a bonus during the body-conscious month of January.

Odd Pair: Gummy Bears and 4 Whites

Categories: Odd Pair

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Somehow after all the Christmas gifts were exchanged and the giant mess of paper and tissue was removed and recycled, I found myself staring at a bag of Gummy Bears.

It was a lovely assortment of pale pink, ruby red, sky blue, and luscious green bears, and I suddenly found myself both hungry and thirsty.

I had a bottle of 2006 Cline Cellars Oakley 4 Whites ($10) that I had previously found stashed in the depths of the liquor cabinet, so I popped open the bottle, got to work on the candy animals, and relaxed for the first time in a long time.

If someone had said to me that there was a wine that would pair well with Gummy Bears, I probably would have scoffed. But this combination was eerily excellent. The wine was a lovely blend of Chardonnay, Palomino, Viognier, and Riesling grapes that harmonized into a smooth, white table wine with a crisp tartness and not too much acidity. It imbued the bears with a striking intensity as I chewed them slowly and even helped remove their sticky residue from my teeth.

It was a wonderful pairing that has inspired me to reexamine these once-loved candies from my childhood. And, of course, in the future I will again pair them with booze.

Odd Pair: Jell-o and Shiraz

Categories: Odd Pair

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Jell-O in and of itself is somewhat odd. It's simply a mound of gelatinous sugar that jiggles when poked. From time to time, I'll get a craving for it and decide to make some. While I usually stick to basics with this treat, last week I felt experimental and decided to add some fresh rosemary to my cranberry Jell-o. It was a delightful combination that was bursting with holiday cheer. To celebrate my accomplishment, I opened a bottle of Chocolate Box 2007 Shiraz.

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