Wildly Winning Food and Wine Combos

As spring merged with summer the scents of fresh food and light wines have splattered across the days. From Majorca to Tuscany to Bordeaux — below are a few meals I was fortunate to sample during these past months, concocted by chefs of renown and paired with wines of solid repute.

These food and wine pairings provide contrasts that showcase Spanish Mediterranean shoreline foods matched with organic and orange wines; Tuscan mountain fare paired with traditional Italian classic vintages, and southern French foods matched with wines from Bordeaux winemakers.

Many of these menus illustrate food and wine pairing principles. These include:

  • Food and wine pairing can be more of an art form than an exact science. Don’t lose sleep over it, and have fun experimenting.
  • Consider dominance: a light wine may get lost if paired with too hearty a beef dish, and a hearty and aged red wine may overpower a light salad. Avoid having either a dish or a wine smother its pairing in terms of power, sweetness or acidity.
  • Sparkling wines are most versatile, because they include relatively high acidity and some sweetness (e.g. — champagne paired with cheese stuffed fried olives).
  • Pairings can be complementary or contrasting. For complementary — consider acidic sparkling wine paired with red snapper and pickled green tomatoes, or a heavy super-Tuscan red blend matched with grilled boar. For contrasting — consider sweet and fruity components of a Saint-Émilion red blend contrasting against Tandoori spices and pepper reduction over poached lobster.
  • Let the best wines take center stage. Remember, a good wine may take 20 years to be ready, while a good meal takes a few hours to cook. If you have a special wine, let it dominate (but not smother) the pairing to highlight its character. An example taken from below is when a 2010 Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé is matched in heft, but not overshadowed by, a dish of pigeon and foie-gras.

The four selected dinners are below.

Setting One

The Dinner and Location

Palma de Majorca, on the rooftop of the seven-story home of Swedish entrepreneur Konrad Bergström, who just launched a new fleet of luxury electric boats for sale.

Rooftop of Konrad Bergström’s home in Palma de Majorca
Konrad Bergström enjoying life

The Chef

Chef Frida Ronge flew in from Stockholm to prepare our amazing dinner (she is Culinary Director of Tak, in Stockholm). Frida is an award winning chef and author of the cookbook Rå Som Sushi.

Renowned Chef Frida Ronge

The Theme

Cutting edge and healthy cuisine paired with organic, natural, orange and biodynamic wines selected by Stefan Lundgren, a Swedish art and wine dealer who lays low on the island now and then.

Healthy recipes

The Food & Wine Pairings

Hatt & Söner Champagne—Grand Cuvée Quattuor 2013 – 100% Chardonnay

Matched with …

Various pre-dinner snacks, including maki with green chilli, crab and avocado; green asparagus miso emulsion and salmon roe; grilled pulpo and squid ink, and cheese stuffed panko fried olives.

[Pairing Note: For this mixed bag of appetizers, champagne fits all]

Green asparagus miso emulsion, and more


2017 Sparkling white wine made from 100% Bacchus grapes from Germany—2naturkinder pet nat.

Matched with …

Red snapper sashimi in shrimp bouillon with beans and pickled green tomatoes

[Pairing Note: Light white acidic bubbly matches seafood and greens]

Red snapper sashimi in shrimp bouillon


2017 German white wine made of 100% Johanniter from Gustavshof in Rheinhessen

Matched with …

Zucchini and squid noodles with wasibi tahini, cress and horseradish


2017 L’Ephémère Blanc blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Roussanne from Julien Peyras of the Languedoc-Rousillon, France

Matched with …

Fermented salad with lemon, thyme and almond milk

Languedoc blend


2016 De Sol A Sol—Tinaja Airén made from 100% Airén grape, an orange wine from Esencia Rural, La Mancha, Toledo, Spain

Matched with …

Tataki grilled mackerel with gooseberries, yuzu koshu and salsa verde


2017 La sAoulée red wine from 100% Gamay grape, made by Nathalie Banes of Beaujolais, France

Matched with …

Chirashi sushi yellowfin tuna, tamago and furikake from Sweden

[Pairing Note: This light red Beaujolais will pair with poultry, as well as strong fish]

A daring Beaujolais wine


2011 Mas Zenitude blend of 75% Carignan and 25% Syrah from Languedoc-Rousillon in Fance

Matched with …

Granita with cherry and hibiscus syrup

Granita – match with red or orange wine


2018 Tout Terriblement sparkling white wine from 100% Gewurtztraminer from Phillipe Brand of Alsace, France

Matched with

Guanaja chocolate with olive oil and salt

& & &

Setting Two …

The Dinner and Location –

The two Michelin star Caino Restaurant is located in the small village of Montemerano in the hils of Tuscany, Italy. It is close to the 11th century castle of famed winemaker Jacopo Biondi Santi, who hosted our dinner and spent the evening telling grand tales of making wine, hunting wild boar and negotiating to buy Denzel Washington’s Humvee while he was visiting the U.S.

Caino Restaurant in the south of Tuscany
Map of Maremma region of southern Tuscany

The Chef –

Valeria Piccini is the two Michelin star chef serving up plates at Caino in the Tuscan hills. She is also the author of several gorgeous cookbooks.

One of Piccini’s many cookbooks

The Theme

Tuscany! Beef and grilled wild boar matched with Sangiovese based wines.

The Food & Wine Pairings –

2018 J Rosé from Castello di Montepò

Matched with  …

Maremmana beef carpaccio, peposo style

Beef carpaccio – Michelin star style


2015 Sassalloro Castello di Montepò, 100% Sangiovese

Matched with …

Vignarola’s Risotto with smoked lamb tartare

Beautiful, and delicious, risotto


2011 Schidione Castello di Montepò, a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

Matched with …

Grilled wild boar

[Pairing Note: This hefty red meets and matches the taste of wild red meat]

Steaming hunks of grilled ‘cinghiale,’ or wild boar

& & &

Setting Three …

The Dinner and Location –

Rooftop of CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux city — Hosted by Château Cordillan-Bages

Rooftop in Bordeaux city

The Theme

This was 15th anniversary dinner for JM Cazes wines.

The Food & Wine Pairings

2011 Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Domaine des Sénéchaux

Matched with …

7-hour confit of Pauillac lamb with lemon and rosemary

[Pairing Note: The strong wine structure complements the lamb; the notes of herbs of provence within the wine match the rosemary]

CNDP – always a hearty winner for a serious main course


2013 Xisto from DOC Douro

Matched with …

Roquefort espuma, roasted hazelnut crumble and diced celery

‘Three grape varieties, two families, one terroir’


2016 Michel Lynch Prestige—Sauternes

Matched with …

Gariguette strawberries from Médoc with rhubarb ice cream and vanilla and lime cream

[Pairing Note: Make your sweet wine sweeter than dessert; but fruit can handle more acidity, so the wine can be slightly drier]


A visual dessert feast

& & &

Setting Four …

The Dinner and Location –

This Jurade Dinner was held in Saint Emilion at Château Soutard.

Twice a year, the robed members of the ancient ‘jurade’ order of Saint-Émilion, protectors and lovers of wine, meet to induct new members and enjoy a splendid meal matched with fabulous local wines.

Within Château Soutard

The Theme

This year’s Jurade meal at Château Soutard kicked off Vinexpo wine trade fair, held in the city of Bordeaux.

New Bordeaux Mayor Nicolas Florian (left) with Monsieur De Boüard of Château Angélus

The Food & Wine Pairings

Chilled Béarn corn-bean soup, smoked eel, pickled griolle mushrooms and sage

Matched with …

2016 L’Archange from vignobles Chatonnet, Saint-Émilion, and

2016 Château Lanbersac Cuvée Or (red) from Françoise et Philippe Lannoye of Puisseguin Saint-Émilion


Poached blue lobster with Tandoori spices, carrot mousse with citrus, Timut pepper reduction with fresh coriander

Matched with …

2011 Château Tour Baladoz, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, and

2010 Château Grand Corbin Manuel, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru

[Pairing Note: Because Saint-Émilion wines are red, pairing them with seafood can mean matching sweetness with spice, or acidity with cream, or both]

Poached blue lobster


Farm-raised pigeon and Wellington duck foie-gras with steam-boiled and browned turnips and peaty sauce

Matched with …

2010 Château Soutard Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé, and

2009 Château Laroze Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé


Matured cheeses, followed by bay leaf panacotta, Menton lemon jelly, almond crumble and gariguette strawberries

Matched with …

2004 Château Troplong Mondot Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé, and

1989 Clos Fourtet Saint-Émilion 1er Grand Cru Classé

[Pairing Note: These wines are not dry, but the medium dryness and fruit will match the sweetness and acidity of dessert]

& & &


My Recent Forbes posts include the following …

Tenuta Luce Roots Its Wine Reputation In The Hills Of Montalcino

How a Penniless Ten-Year Old Became A Shoemaker Of Dreams

Tuscany’s Il Boro Village blends Tradition and Luxury with Forward Thinking

Why the Collio of Friuli Delivers Crackling and Creamy Wines

France is Changing Key Wine Regulations

This Powerful Little Grape is About To Change the Wine Scene

Why Sicily’s Mount Etna is a Hot Spot For Wine Production


Wine Books

I’m now reading Wine Reads – A Literary Anthology of Wine Writing, edited by Jay McInerney. This compelling collection includes 27 excellent selections, including: the opening chapter of the book from which the Sideways movie was made; a history of events that led Robert Mondavi to create his own winery; a fictional piece about a wine tasting by Roald Dahl — author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

New Vino Voices Web Log –

Still under development! But, getting closer ..

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