Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My tenderest twosome: Wine Blog Wednesday #66

Early on in my exploration of the wine blog world I discovered a monthly event called Wine Blog Wednesday. It seems to be an invention of blogger Lenn Thompson over at The New York Cork Report in which different wine bloggers host an event once a month and all participating bloggers write around a common theme. These posts are then consolidated by the host so readers can see the diversity of thoughts or ideas around this theme. It seems like a fun idea to me, so I am participating this month.

February is being hosted by The Domestic Goddess, a food oriented blog who has a similar monthly event called Sugar High Fridays. As the first combined event it only makes sense that the theme is pairing of dessert and wine. Many great meals run out of steam by the time dessert is reached and revert to coffee or a post-dessert liqueur. This is probably partly because pairing wine with a sugary dish can be difficult. You don't want the sugar in the dessert to make the wine taste only of acid, and you don't want the sugar in the wine (if a sweet wine is chosen) to overpower the dessert and make it taste bland. I suppose one could always stoop to the classic Port and really dark chocolate, but to me that is sort of a cave in.

That said I really have no experience to build on here. I needed some inspiration and didn't even know where to start. Fortunately the day I woke up knowing that I was going to bake a dessert and find a wine I looked outside and saw big billowing gray rain clouds. The day was in the mid-50s and showering off and on all day long. It reminded me of a typical early Spring day in Oregon where I grew up. For some reason this made me crave a connection to the Pacific Northwest and I fell upon my idea. I was going to create a warm, Washington apple dessert of some type - something slightly tart and acidic and not overly sweet, and pair it with a Late Harvest Reisling from Washington. The connection was just going to be their area of production, and an attempt to have the wine be sweeter than the dish. This was really all I had to go on.

I chose Granny Smith apples and a classic apple pie recipe that I had used before and found to be a little too light on the sweetener. While for a big Thanksgiving meal I was disappointed by the sweet factor I thought it might be really good with a sweet wine. I verified that the apples were grown in Washington and set to work. This is not a food focused blog, and while I really do enjoy cooking and baking lets just say the pie came out fine, but I struggle with pie crust.....

For the pairing I chose a Hogue Cellars Late Harvest Reisling Columbia Valley 2008. Hogue Cellars was founded in 1982 by Mike and Gary Hogue in the Columbia Valley, Washington. They produce 3 lines of wines Hogue, Genesis, and Reserve which are all sold as single varietal wines with one Cabernet/Merlot blend. The entry level Hogue wines offer many different varietals, while the upper end are limited to Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemakers Co Dinn, and Jordan Ferrier, both UC Davis graduates, have been with the winery for quite awhile now and have worked diligently to increase quality and production.

First, the wine - it was a very light straw yellow in the glass, had 11.7% abv, and was picked at 24.6 degrees brix (the sugar level in the fruit at the time of harvest). The nose was not particularly full of aroma but gave a sweet peach flavor and a distinct smell of wet, yeasty, bread dough (not entirely unpleasant though it sounds.) On the palette the wine tasted of a sweet lemonade, and ripe peaches. It had a mineral element that was nice but a short finish, and not a particularly strong sense of body or balance. The wine, as a stand alone got a 2.5. It cost me all of $6.99 and is widely available for between $7 and $12.

The pie is harder to judge because I made it. I will be honest if not self critical and say that it looked like a hot mess. I can not create a smooth, pretty, pie crust to save my life. I'm almost embarrassed to show the picture. But the recipe called for the creation of a gooey, apple juice concentrate and dark rum sauce prior to baking that coated large slices of apple. The sauce only had about 1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar in it and relied heavily on the sugars from the fruit itself. The filling actually came out very tasty, with some tooth still to the apples and a nice level of acidity.

Now for an analysis of the pairing, the whole point of this experiment. It was.....alright. The flavors did not clash, but did not enhance. The pie was sweet enough that the mineral notes in the Reisling were strongly framed by the combination, actually slightly destracting from some of the pleasentries of the wine. However, if this is an appropriate judgement, I would have been okay serving this to friends at a dinner party. Overall the pairing had its own inspiration (never to be confused with knowledge or experience) and was a fun and tasty dessert experience.

1 comment:

  1. apple pie.... o my that looks yummy... and i love the addition of the rating scale...