There are a plethora of spots to enjoy wine and cheese and/or a charcuterie plate while in Calistoga. But if you’re looking to elevate your next dinner party, or simply wondering which bottle to bring to your favorite local restaurant — why not think outside the box and delve further into the art of food and wine pairing? To get you started, here are a few basic rules you can follow:
- Find complementing elements in the food and wine
A great example of this approach is at Romeo Vineyards & Cellars in Calistoga where you can sample a Wine Margarita Pizza made with a Cabernet Sauvignon Tomato Sauce and topped with fresh mozzarella and basil. This pizza pairs perfectly with a glass of Romeo’s Napa Valley Cabernet. (Pizzas are available seasonally, Friday-Sunday from 11:00 AM-1:30 PM.)
Betsy at 2880 Wines recommends pairing the luscious 2880 Red (blend of Grenache, Petite Sirah and Syrah) with “Chukar’s Cherries for Wine” as another complementary duo.
- Find contrasting elements in the food and wine.
Offsetting a spicy dish with a Riesling such as LOLA Wines Monterey Dry Riesling (a hint of sweet) works well. The “fruitiness” of most Rieslings tames the heat of spicy foods. Alternatively, if you’re a rosé fan, try pairing the Madelynne Rosé from Trujillo Wines with Mexican, Thai or Indian cuisine.
- Un-oaked white wines pair well with anything you can squeeze a lemon or lime on, such as salmon or other fish dishes.
Seafood and Butter are classic Chardonnay pairings, but for something a little different, the Sauvignon Blanc from Picayune Cellars offers a bright and lively palate and citrusy notes, a great example of a wine that will work with more acidic flavors.
- You can’t go wrong with Regional Pairings
Usually, wines of a particular region are made to pair with foods of that region. Think French Red Bordeaux with your Beef Bourguignon. An Italian inspired wine, such as Benessere Vineyards’ Rosato di Sangiovese will surely complement your lasagna Bolognese. If you don’t feel like cooking this Italian specialty, simply grab a bottle of Sangiovese and head to Bosko’s Trattoria in Calistoga to enjoy your wine with one of their pasta specials.
- Most cheeses pair well with a dry rosé.
The Lava Vine North Coast Rosé will, no doubt, serve a worthy accent to certain cheeses. But if you want a sure bet, you’ll want to reserve a spot on the Connoisseur’s Cave Tour at Clos Pegase Winery. The tour includes a cheese and charcuterie plate, an in-depth winery tour and sit-down tasting in the cave. If you’re lucky, you may even get to compare how the Estate Rosé pairs with cheese.
- Champagne and dry sparkling wines that tend to have a touch of sweetness will contrast well with salty foods.
Think Schramsberg Vineyards Extra Brut with an antipasto platter of prosciutto, sopressetta, pecorino and olives.
- Rich, red wines pair well with rich, red meats.
Hold on to that bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from your visit to Chateau Montelena. You’ll want to open it with your next steak and burger BBQ. Better yet, purchase a few bottles and save one to enjoy with the hearty beef stew you’ll prepare this winter.
Finally, the easiest rule to remember when thinking about food and wine pairings is to do what appeals to your taste. Remember, there are no wrong rules when it comes to food and wine pairings, as long as you like it!
If you require assistance, however, you can always turn to one of our local Calistoga wineries for assistance and take the “guesswork” out of the equation. In the meantime, here’s a sampling of some places where you can “savor” a food and wine experience outside of your kitchen:
Chef Ben at Brian Arden Winery creates the perfect pairing experience for you from the winery’s on-site garden. Below is one example of his recipes:
If you’re visiting during the weekend, V. Sattui Winery offers two hours of fun, engaging, “edu-tainment” in their underground barrel aging cellars. Your senses will be amazed during a seated tasting of six phenomenal wines paired with six sumptuous culinary creations.
Another favorite tasting spot downtown, Olabisi Wines, partners with one of Calistoga’s most popular restaurants, Evangeline, Friday-Sunday to offer a Charcuterie Assortment or Cheese “Box” paired with the winery’s Classic Tasting or Cabernet Flight.
For a uniquely-Calistoga food and wine pairing, visit Tamber Bey Vineyards, known for its Savory Cookie Pairing that can be added to any tasting.
If you’re looking for a sweet treat, August Briggs offers a Chocolate and Wine Pairing so you can learn how wine complements and accentuates the unique flavors of chocolate while simultaneously sweetening your day.
Beringer Vineyards offers a one-hour tour of its winemaking, culinary arts history and its sensory gardens. The tour concludes in the Rhine House family kitchen with a selection of Beringer Reserve wines paired with the chef’s culinary treats.
To experience a one-of-a-kind Napa Valley experience, consider taking a seat at Brasswood of Napa Valley’s communal table for a unique sensory tasting of Brasswood’s boutique ultra-premium wines paired with seasonal dishes from the Brasswood Bar + Kitchen. They can’t wait to see you!
Another opportunity to hone your food and wine pairing skills is with a Sterling Vineyards Platinum Experience. The crème de la crème of this winery’s offerings will indulge your taste buds during a one-hour educational experience. Enjoy a flight of four reserve wines paired with a series of sensational amuse-bouches prepared by the Sterling Vineyards culinary team.
Need more inspiration? Here’s a food and wine pairing recommendation with recipe, courtesy of Stacey at Coquerel Wines. Recommended pairing with Coquerel Wines 2017 Verdelho.
Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche
Recipe courtesy of Avocados from Mexico
- 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed and halved (21-25 per lb.)
- 1/2 lb. sea scallops, quartered
- 1 – 1/2 cups lime juice fresh juice from 6-8 limes
- 1/2 cup white or red onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp. orange juice fresh
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 avocado From Mexico halved pitted, peeled and diced
- 1 medium red tomato, diced
- 2 tbsp. cilantro or celery leaves Chopped
- 1 jalapeño seeds and veins removed finely diced, optional
- Combine lime juice, shrimp, scallops and onion in a medium glass bowl.
- Toss to combine, cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to marinate for 3 hours or until the shrimp and scallops are white in color.
- Drain the liquid from the shrimp-scallop-onion mixture, but do not rinse.
- In a large glass bowl whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, and salt.
- Add the avocado, tomato, cilantro, jalapeño pepper and marinated seafood.
- Toss gently to combine, and serve immediately.