I prepared Garlicky Shrimp Pasta last night. It’d been a while since I made it, and my vague recollection was that the next time I make it, add a bit salt and add more red pepper flakes to make it spicier. Well, I got carried away on both counts! It turned out to be a bit saltier, and spicier than I’d intended. Oh well – live and learn…now what wine to serve?
I needed something that would stand up to the abundance of garlic (the shrimp are marinated in raw garlic for 20 minutes, then cooked in olive oil “blessed” with garlic) , and spicy heat of the red pepper, yet not overwhelm the tender mild flavor of the shrimp.
Sometimes in such situations it’s best to not have too many options. As fate would have it, my choices were limited to what was chilled in the fridge. The choices boiled to a Viognier, or a Prosecco, which I happen to have on hand for the next meeting of our wine tasting club. I decided to go with a Sorelle Bronca Prosecco. It was an excellent pairing with the pasta dish! The Prosecco was off-dry, which means it had a touch of sweetness to it. That touch of sweetness offset the spiciness of the dish wonderfully.
There was even a bonus the next day when to my surprise, we enjoyed the leftover Prosecco with Salvadoran chicken tamales, and homemade salsa. How’s that for versatility?!
Sparkling wines (Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, etc.) contains high levels of acidity and depending on the variety (see my Champagne Day post) a small amount of sugar. Those two characteristics make sparkling wines very versatile food wines that complement a wide variety of foods from a mild poached fish to spicy ethnic foods. And then there is effervescence of sparkling wines which cleanses your palate with each sip. Start with a Brut, or Extra-Dry sparkling wine depending on your tastes and the dish. If the dish in on the spicy side, I’d recommend an Extra-Dry sparkling wine.
Mostly we’ve enjoyed sparkling wine with sushi (it’s the perfect foil for sushi dipped in wasabi, and soy sauce!). But if you’re like most folks, the only time you’ve had sparkling wine were for special occasions, or in a Mimosa for brunch. It has so much more potential for enjoyment! Start small by having sparkling wine with appetizers like Brie and Gouda cheese, smoked salmon, mini quiches, buttered popcorn, or salted mixed nuts. Or if you’re ready to try it with a meal, aside from the aforementioned sushi, try it with take-out Chinese, a risotto, or pasta with oil and garlic. My only cautionary note would be too avoid dishes with tomato based sauce because the acidity of the tomatoes clashes with the acidity of the sparkling wine.
I’ve found the best way to learn about wine is to experiment, and as with life there are no failed experiments, only unexpected outcomes!
The famous British economist John Maynard Keynes once remarked…“my only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne”. Whether it’s Champagne, or any of the other varieties of sparkling wines …life is too short for regrets! Find a bubbly you like. Keep it chilled, and have it with a meal!
- Best way to pour champagne? ‘Down the side’ wins first scientific test (scienceblog.com)