Alex Trebek: “Hot chocolate, chowders, cinnamon lattes, macaroni and cheese.”
Contestant: “What are things that taste good in cold weather, Alex.”
Alex: “Correct. You’ve taken the lead. Select your next category.”
Savory Flatbread and Red Wine… Definitely Comfort Food!
Isn’t Jeopardy the best? You know what else is the best? Comforting things to eat and drink in the wintertime (and wearing the sweaters to cover all the evidence up!). February is here and it is usually one of the cooler months of the year. Cold gazpachos and ice-cold lemonade take a hiatus while stews, casseroles and comfort foods in general take center stage for a while. This is exciting for us because it means a whole new category of dishes to pair wines with. A popular consensus is that reds taste better in the cold weather while whites are best when it’s warm, but take heart white wine fans, with the right ingredients, you can sip the winter away with your favorite crisp, refreshing wines. As for all of you red wine devotees, with all the roasts and pastas going around, there’s never been a better time to uncork all of your favorite reds. Here are some popular, comforting winter dishes and our perfect wine suggestions –
Macaroni and Cheese – I recently found a book at my local library that contains nothing but recipes for mac and cheese. From the classic version with gobs of cheddar to the more sophisticated, like Dungeness crab mac, there is truly something for everyone. Even better, perhaps is the fact that each recipe comes with a suggested wine pairing. It really depends on the elements of your macaroni and cheese. A standard mac and cheese is great with a fruity red, like Zinfandel while a variation with some spice would be wonderful with a crisp white, like Vermentino, or even something bubbly like Moscato.
Lasagna – There are a zillion variations on lasagna, but for the sake of this blog, let’s focus on classic, red sauce lasagna with some type of ground meat and lots of cheese. A hot pan of this was made for a cold day and, really, something Italian is forever appropriate. We suggest Sangiovese. We think you’ll agree.
Fried Chicken – This is a tough dish to resist. Moist, flavorful chicken lies just beneath a coating of hot, crispy goodness. We all know this isn’t diet food, which is exactly why it’s comfort food at its finest. Indulge on the chilliest of days and never look back. Surprisingly, something with bubbles is a perfect partner to fried chicken. The effervescence cuts right through any grease, refreshing your palate for each consecutive and glorious bite. Chill your bottle of sparkling Moscato thoroughly before serving.
Spaghetti Carbonara – Real spaghetti carbonara is a masterful dish made only with a handful of ingredients including eggs, bacon and cheese. No, no, it’s not intended for breakfast, but we won’t blame you if you decide to go that route. The hot pasta is quickly tossed in an egg and cheese mixture so that the heat of the spaghetti essentially cooks the egg. Crisp pancetta is added and what you’re left with is positively sinful. Both red and white wines work well with this dish. White fans, go with something light like Pinot Grigio. Red fans will like a lighter, fruitier wine, like Beverino.
Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup – This is my old reliable. When I don’t know what to make for dinner, when the mister is out of town – whenever! – I love this meal. Homemade cream of tomato soup is a cinch to put together and the variations on a grilled cheese sandwich are endless. I love gruyere cheese on sourdough bread, with a little smear of Dijon on the bread. And I’m not a dipper – I eat the soup and sandwich separately, but that’s just me. My preferred wine is a lighter red, like Super T.
Chicken pot pie, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, French fries, roast chicken…we could really go on and on. Point is, for every food, there is a perfect Ponte wine. Find your favorite one this winter!