What wine will compliment a meal with all kinds of taste elements going on?
I chose 2 wines that you immediately think are polar opposites, but in fact share some of the same qualities which are: fruit and spice.
The meal also had a common theme and that was Cilantro. Cilantro is very herbaceous, spicy and tangy. For me a little goes a long way. It can overpower food.
The first wine is Times Ten Cellars (www.timestencellars.com) Gewürztraminer. I love this German grape. It is full of fruit like nectarines, peaches, pears, and plums, but it has a spicy element that cuts the sweetness and makes it very drinkable. It almost has an effervescent quality and the smell of this wine is intoxicating with heavy floral scents of honeysuckle, hibiscus, and lavender. It would make a great air freshener!
The second wine is Calais Winery La Cuvee du Commerce (www.calaiswinery.com) which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. This wine has more dark fruit flavors of black cherries and plum with some brown sugar, leather and smoke thrown in. But this is not a heavy red wine. The Syrah keeps it bright and spicy.
Chicken Enchiladas from Cowboy Chicken (www.cowboychicken.com) was my meal to challenge these wines.
Cowboy Chicken is known for their roasted chicken. When you go in the restaurant you can see the lovely, golden birds turning on an open flame and smell that smokey goodness. I love the enchiladas because they are stuffed with shredded roasted chicken wrapped in corn tortillas and then a spicy tomatillo-sour cream sauce is poured over the enchiladas. The sauce is cheesy, salty, spicy, and tangy.
I knew the Gewürztraminer would be a good choice because sweet wines always pair well with spicy hot food….sort of “opposites attract”….I was not disappointed. The wine enhanced the creamy cheese, smoothed out the pepper, and added an herbal element (I think it helped the cilantro come out because there was not a lot of it in the sauce).
The Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend was not a bad choice. It complimented all of the flavors, but because this is not a “sweet” wine (even though it has some fruit to it), the pepper was enhanced more, which may or may not appeal to you…I didn’t mind….
Next were the side dishes which were on the diverse flavor scale. A refreshing tomato cucumber salad and a spicy black bean salad.
The tomato cucumber salad had purple onions and cilantro that had been marinading in sweet vinegar. It was sweet, tart, and a little spicy-hot because of the onions. The Gewürztraminer made it sweeter and complimented the tangyness of the vinegar. The Cabernet blend went well with this dish and actually brought out the herbal punch of the cilantro.
The black bean dish was full of herbaceous cilantro, jalapeno and tomato’s…very earthy and spicy. The Gewürztraminer enhanced the earthy, herb flavor and toned down the spicy flavor. The Cabernet blend brought out a more vegetable quality to the beans(you could taste the beans more) but did not smooth out the pepper.
There were a lot of flavors going on and it was tough trying to figure what would go with what…..but I was up to the challenge and so were these wines. After all….I AM the Twisted Sommelier! 😉