spring salad with chives and goat cheese • Baguette and fresh new butter with herbs • Herb ravioli in garlic sauce • Grilled pork tenderloin with cornmeal and herbs • Honey lavender panna cotta with summer berries to finish Mary gave us wine suggestions for each course, and we went to our local wine shop and asked for help in finding the best bottles within these ideas. We had a budget of $80 for the wine and the final bill came in exactly on the dot. For plenty of photos of the food and wine, go to the slideshow. Fino Sherry works with salad, as does a grassy Sauvignon Blanc. To reduce the vinegar character in the salad dressing use verjus (or a mixture of verjus and lemon juice) - or even some good balsamic that adds a little sweetness. Riesling can also work quite well, as the acidity is very high. Maybe try an off-dry Riesling Kabinett from Germany or a dry Riesling from Australia Baguette with fresh new butter Well, we know that Chardonnay loves butter so here is the place for you to try out different Chardonnay wines. Also, other wines also work depending on whether the butter is salted or unsalted. Try unsalted also with Alsace or Oregon PInot Gris and the salted with a Marsanne. (Qupe winery in Santa Barbara makes a great one that I can still taste in my mouth from a few weeks ago, and it is broad, rich and viscous - which would work well with the butter).
Herb Ravioli in garlic sauce Here we have a fairly rich sauce on the ravioli. Try a good quality Pinot Grigio from Friuli or Alto Adige, that is both refreshing enough to balance the oil or butter and also has enough body to match the pasta. Alternatively, a Chablis or mildly oaked Chardonnay would also work. Unless the sauce is made from butter avoid a big oaky Chardonnay.
Grilled pork tenderloin with cornmeal and herbs Pork is a fairly mild meat, and also can be a bit dry. The best option is something refreshing and fruity with good acidity but not too tannic. It is a lighter dish so avoid big powerful tannic wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon. As there does not seem to be a sweet fruit sauce stick to a fruity red. Pinot noir would work wonderfully. The elegance, perfume and silky tannins would be in perfect balance with the grilled pork and also match with the cornmeal and herbs. A cool climate Pinot might be better to avoid jammy flavors which might fight with the simple grilled character. Burgundy, Oregon or Santa Barbara Pinots would be my recommendations . Alternatively, try Italian Dolcetto d'Alba from Piedmont. Like the Pinot it has medium plus acidity, good juicy fruit and not too much tannin. Honey lavender panna cotta with summer berries Here the most important aspects to think about when selecting a wine are the lightness and elegance of the panna cotta and the red fruit finish. Steer away from BIG dessert wines such as Port or Madeira. Acidity will also be important to cut through the creamy panna cotta but then not too acidic as to clash with the fruit. The dessert wine should be sweeter than the dish. Here you have several options. If you can find a Moscato Rosa from the Veneto, or Alto Adige. Perhaps you might even find that someone in CA is making one as well? The delicate Muscat and rose aromas would really compliment the red fruits in this dish, and also be elegant enough for the panna cotta. Other options are ice wine (Canadian is very expensive but try one from the Finger Lakes or New Zealand). Moscato d'Asti - so light and ethereal would also work very well. Austrian Beerenauslese wines would also work as they are usually not oaked and have very pure fruit expression, great acidity and sweetness to balance the panna cotta. Something different could be a sparkling Brachetto d'Acqui from Piedmont in Italy - very aromatic with distinctive strawberry aromas, light bodied and sweet. Final Menu Pairings and Wine Choices We were in heaven, having all these expert wine choices! We had a good time at the wine store, browsing around and talking with the resident expert there. We decided to skip the extra wine with the bread and leave that off for the moment. • With the salad: Alvear's Fino Sherry, $15 • With the pasta: William Fevre "Champs Royaux" Chablis, $22 • With the grilled pork: Bouchard Pére & Fils Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2005, $22 • With the panna cotta and strawberries: Primio Bacio Moscato d'Asti, $16 For plenty of photos of the food and wine, go to the slideshow. The Cheesemonger meets The Winemonger: A Cheese and Wine Pairing Primer (Images: Faith Hopler)