Archive | September 2015

How to finish a bottle of sweet wine – Part 2

In the first part of this blog entry, I served a sweet white wine, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, with three different desserts and these pairings worked beautifully.

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In this second part, I’m coming up with the rest of the dinner menu to pair with this wine. The goal here is to be able to finish an entire bottle of sweet wine between two people at a single dinner so none of the wine goes to waste. I know that sweet wines are hard to drink in large amounts and they are also less conventional to pair with savory foods. However, the menu that I came up with works really harmoniously with the wine from start to finish.

First up is the appetizer. A classic pairing with sweet white wine is foie gras. You can go with either goose or duck, the latter having stronger flavors and former being more delicate in flavor yet unctuous in texture. If opting for canned or jarred foie gras, it’s always best to go for entier, meaning the liver was cooked whole, and mi-cuit, meaning it is the cooking time is a lot shorter. The best duck foie gras is made in the Perigord region, in the southwest of France. Perigord is the ultimate duck region!

My favorite duck foie-gras producer is Vidal:

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I’m  serving the foie gras with some homemade brioche. It takes a long time to make brioche from scratch but it is well worth the effort!

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You really can’t go wrong with the foie gras and sweet wine pairing. So opulent and delicious!

For the main course, I got inspired by Asian flavors. Sweet and spicy flavors in food go really well with sweet wine and I decided to make pork tenderloin. I marinaded the tenderloin in Japanese dried red chilies, ginger, garlic, and shallots. I then used the marinade to make the sauce, adding jus and some of the wine – it is the wine that gives this dish its sweetness. I seared the tenderloin and served it with some pea puree, blanched cherry tomatoes, and greens. I loved the interplay of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors.

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The wine worked with this dish for a couple of reason. First, with a spicy dish it’s better to choose a sweet wine, as that will alleviate the heat. You definitely want to stay away from tannic wines as spice accentuates the bitter flavors that come from tannins. Second, sweet foods always pair best with sweet wines, and worst with dry wines (see more on this in Part I of this entry).

Now for the cheese course! When it comes to cheese and wine pairings, one of my favorites is blue cheese and sweet white wine. Such an amazing pairing! The sweetness and the richness of the wine work wonderfully to soften the sharp and salty flavors in the cheese. For this very reason, I also love sweet fresh figs with blue cheese. At the same time, the pungent and strong flavors in the cheese are perfect to moderate the sweetness of the wine, making the wine appear lighter not only in terms of flavor but also texture. For the cheese course, I have a very special blue cheese that I brought back from Istanbul. It is called Obruk cheese and it is aged in sheep’s skin. When you buy it, it still has the skin attached on the outside.

Obruk is drier and saltier than many blue cheeses, such as Gorgonzola or Roquefort and the flavors are more concentrated. I love this cheese! If you take a trip to Turkey, I definitely recommend giving this a try.

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The final course is, of course, dessert, which I covered in Part 1 of this entry. If you haven’t already, check out: How to finish a bottle of sweet wine – Part I.

For lots more pictures of food and wine, check out my Instagram account:@thatperfectbottle

How to finish a bottle of sweet wine – Part I

I just got some lovely apricots at the market. I think I got a little too much so I’m going to use them up by making dessert. I rarely make dessert but my goal this year is to be a bit more diverse in the kitchen, so here we go.

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I decided to make an apricot millefeuille. A vanilla pastry cream and apricots sautéed in butter and sugar will go in between each puff pastry layer. To finish it off, I just dusted the millefeuille with a bit of powdered sugar. Delicious!

Since it was the first time I was making millefeuille, I wanted to experiment a bit with how I assembled them.

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And of course, I will pair this millefeuille with a wine. I know most people do not like sweet wines but during dessert course, a sweet wine is a must! If you opt for a dry wine, the sweetness of the dessert will make the wine appear sour-tasting and just unpleasant overall. On the other hand, if you pair dessert with a sweet wine, the relative sweetness of the dessert will actually make the wine appear less sweet. And you should always choose a sweet wine that is balanced with acidity. Definitely no Blue Nuns here! And because you’re pairing dessert with something sweet the sweetness of the dessert will actually reduce the sweetness of the wine, making it appear more acidic and dry.

Since apricot and cream are on the dessert menu, I’m going with a sweet white wine. My choice is from the Bordeaux region: Sainte Croix du Mont. This appellation is from the same region as the famous Sauternes but much more reasonably priced. It is made by Chateau Crabitan Bellevue and the vintage is 2006.

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The color of this wine is gorgeous! I love the aromas in this wine! Honey, apricot, and orange peel. The flavors are also quite nice: it is obviously sweet but very nicely balanced by acidity and it has a slight citrusy bitter finish.

After tasting the wine, I decided to make another dessert to highlight the orange flavors of the wine. I think an orange zest dark chocolate mousse will pair nicely with this wine. I’m topping the mousse with some orange peel confit (which I learned how to make it my sauce-making class this past summer at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris – we were learning how to make duck á l’orange), freshly whipped cream, and dark chocolate shavings. In this recipe, instead of baking chocolate, I used a super high quality organic dark chocolate bar. This is such a decadent dessert!

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Lastly, I also made some orange rice pudding. I simply added some orange zest to the milk along with some sugar, vanilla, and arborio rice. Super simple!

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All three desserts was a lovely match to the wine! I especially loved the chocolate mousse pairing, which I thought was interesting because I would normally go for a sweet red wine, like a port, to pair with chocolate. I thought that the chocolate flavors would overpower the orange flavors when it came to the wine pairing. In addition, I usually avoid pairing bitter foods like chocolate with bitter wines. However, the bitter finish in this wine is offset by enough sweetness (and also the bitter flavors that are in the wine actually closely mirror the orange flavors in the dessert), which explains why the pairing worked well. And this is why I love doing this blog! It’s always an interesting learning experience 🙂

My friend and I really enjoyed the desserts and the wine. However, there is only so much sweetness that I can  handle before going in to a sugar coma. But when we were finished with dessert, we still had more a lot of wine left in the bottle. This got me thinking… Usually between two people, if each person has a glass of sweet wine with dessert, about half of the bottle gets wasted – I don’t eat sweets that frequently so by the time I eat dessert again, the open bottle can easily go bad in the fridge. What to do with the rest of the bottle so we don’t waste any of it (especially since well-made sweet wines are not cheap)?

I decided come up with an entire dinner menu that would pair well with sweet wine. A savory menu where two people would easily be able to finish a bottle of sweet wine without being overwhelmed by sugar. In part II of this blog entry, I’ll feature an appetizer, main course, and a cheese to pair with this wine. Stay tuned!

For lots more pictures of food and wine, check out my Instagram account: @thatperfectbottle