Some delicious pairing ideas for Bordeaux blends

Date posted:
April 26, 2012

For many people, wine appreciation, collecting and drinking begins and ends with Bordeaux, writes Eric Guido from the US of A, and you may not even realize it, but it is primarily two grapes that make up the lion's share of the Bordeaux blend, namely cabernet sauvignon and merlot, with cabernet franc trailing as a close third.


(The other two varieties making up a Bordeaux blend are malbec and petit verdot, just so you know. - Ed.)


When dining at the average restaurant that serves wine by the glass, chances are there will always be a cabernet sauvignon, and there will likely be a merlot on the list as well.

Bordeaux can also be thought of as the most famous wine region, as its branding has been secured for centuries. It's because of this that the Bordeaux blend, or Meritage (as they call it in California), has spread across the globe. From Bordeaux itself to Super Tuscans in Italy and Meritage in Napa, your likelihood of pairing a meal with a Bordeaux blend is very high.

Most people default to a hearty steak, which is a great pairing due to the fatty meat contrasting with the wine's concentration and firm (if youthful) structure, but these wines are far more versatile than that. Let's explore the Bordeaux blend from a number of regions and see what kind of pairings we can come up with.


Napa Valley with Class


I'm often asked by people going to Napa, "What are the best wineries in Napa to visit?" Larkmead is always at the top of my list. It's not because of some grand architectural achievement in their tasting room or some hillside scenic view, it's because Larkmead is producing some of the best quality wines in Napa Valley, and the prices remain fair. Their merlot-dominant Firebelle is a perfect example of this. It has all the textural richness and fruit of Napa while still showing hints of the earth from which it came, a true sense of place.

I found a Roast Leg of Lamb with Herbs (above) to be an excellent pairing. The herbal, gamey flavors of the lamb are perfectly contrasted by the Firebelle's elegant fruit and earth. What's more, this pairing isn't a competition. Instead, it's a team effort, as both the Firebelle and the lamb balance each other out and create a wonderful experience on the palate.


Cabernet from a Red Mountain


In this taster's opinion, Washington State is now producing some of the most exciting Bordeaux blends in the U.S. These are wines of power that are blended with red earth and minerals. They are not Californian in style, nor are they French; instead Washington State has found its own middle ground, and the results are stunning.

I found a hearty Beef Stroganoff with Cremini & Porcini Mushrooms (above) to be the perfect pairing. The wine's intensity is slightly mellowed by the meat that simply melts in your mouth, along with complementing flavors and mushrooms in the sauce to add masses of depth to an already zesty and exciting wine. This pairing begged for a sip of wine with each bite.


An Everyday Bordeaux


As much as we all hear about how expensive Bordeaux is, the fact is that there are a lot of values coming out of the region that simply never receive the attention they deserve. Bordeaux is a large region with many undiscovered producers that are just waiting to be found.   

I never would have thought that Bordeaux would pair with fried chicken (left), but it did. I certainly wouldn't put a Bordeaux next to grilled or sauteed poultry, but fried chicken is a different animal altogether. The well-seasoned, crunchy crust and moist, seasoned meat is a perfect complement to a young Bordeaux. Give it a try and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Now, if any of the above meal ideas grabs your fancy, go to any wine estate in a wine growing area which is acknowledged for its Bordeaux blends and find out what they have to complement these meals. Or check out their websites for the winemakers’ tasting notes and food suggestions. – Ed.


(Source: SNOOTH)




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