Choosing a wine to pair with what I’m cooking is an enjoyable exercise, one that is almost always rewarding. There’s nothing better than opening a bottle of, say, Riesling from the Pfalz and serving it to guests dining on shrimp with a green curry sauce. I have a go-to list that resides in my brain, of course, and rely on it often, but recently, I ignored the mind roster and decided to let serendipity have the evening.
I was making a simple pasta dish — spinach, garlic, capers, basil, Kalamata olives, crushed red pepper, and olive oil — and reached for a bottle that I had been meaning to taste; I was going to opening it on that evening anyway, so decided to drink it with the meal. It was a magical pairing.
It was a 2013 Pinot Noir from Lange Twins, from the producer’s Estate Grown line, and I was liking it. Dark cherry aroma, ruby in color, the wine possessed a slight spiciness (it spends some time in oak). Then I sat down to eat, and drank more of the Pinot after the first bite of my dish, and my face lit up.
The flavors on my fork mingled with the wine, and the meal was complete. Alone, the wine was ideal, and easy to serve. As was my pasta dish. But together, their qualities combined and morphed into an utterly satisfying repast.
The garlic and basil played especially well with the wine’s qualities, and the pepper flakes enhanced its cherry notes. I tasted raspberry as well, and perhaps a touch of camphor, slight though it was. The rich saltiness of the Parmigiano-Reggiano I grated over the dish tasted deeper after a sip of the Pinot.