Friday, November 20, 2009

Wine Pairing Notes & Thoughts by Michael Hughes

The Wife and I invited our close friend Michael Hughes over to enjoy our "Thanksgiving Preparedness Drill" meal with us the other night. Michael's blog, Midtown Stomp, is a great tool for anyone who wants to know more about wine in general and the Memphis wine scene in particular. Before he arrived for dinner I described what we would be eating and asked that he, in his vast wine wisdom, pick the perfect bottle to go with this meal. In his own words:

McCrea Cellars Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Syrah 2002 Red Mountain AVA, Washington

This was a stunning bottle when I last tasted it. Over the course of a few hours it expressed a firm graceful elegant grip that was a roller coaster of complex flavors. When you said that the main ingredients were chanterelles, apricots I initially thought of going French. Maybe a Bandol with earthy, wild, gaminess. However, I remembered I had this bottle & with it being 7 years old I figured it had softened up somewhat. When we first opened the bottle I gave it a sniff & immediately smelled a smoky, meaty aroma that was almost primal. What I love about syrah is the sensual, earthy expression that it has. It can be tannic & gripping but still be velvety & caressing. This McCrea had this all over it & then some. It matched harmoniously with your stuffed squash & mushroom/barley gravy because it too had earthy aromas & flavors. The savory umami that the dish had amplified this wild richness in the wine but it wasn't overpowering. I really think that there is magic in pairing wine & food. Sometimes they clash & sometimes they sing together but when a pairing really works it taps into emotions rather than strictly hitting the palate. This was one of those instances that was an incredible strong reminder of why I love what I do.

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