Pairing wine with food is a science. Or so we hear. Normally we reach for whatever we have in the fridge or sitting on the counter (which, okay fine, always ends up being good because we shop from our own Spirits + Wine Gallery, and if the wine tastes good and the food tastes good, then we consider that a job well done). That being said, our Wine + Spirits manager, Jeff, says there are a couple “rules” that do make pairings work better than others. So we put him to the test.
When we can, on Fridays the team gets together after work in the warehouse for happy hour, and last week we ordered a bunch of pizza, too. Jeff was in charge of the wine and opened a couple bottles of Lagrein 2013. We are very fancy with our pairings, here at Mouth HQ.
He explained that wineries can use different kinds of oak to age their wines. French is some of the subtlest, while Slovenian gives a little more vanilla, and American adds the most potent flavor. Long Island winery Channing Daughters, the makers of Lagrein 2013, ages their red in a mix of separate French and Slovenian oak barrels, then blends them together.
This time spent in oak smooths out the tannins, making it a best-bud of acidic foods, like tomatoes – which were all over our pizza! And you know what? The spicy, warm, smooth Lagrein did make the pizza taste better, and the pizza made the Lagrein taste better. By the time we left, we were all very, very happy.
We’re also crushing (heh) hard on the maker. Channing Daughters, founded in 1982, is run by a small, passionate group: Larry Perrine, who studied Enology and Viticulture at Cornell graduate school (and helped more than 20 other vineyards and wineries before Channing) has, over the years, worked intensively to improve the vineyard planting. Christopher Tracy joined in 2001 and is now their full-time winemaker and partner, and his wife Allison Dubin is the general manager.
The winery is all about pushing the boundaries of what seems possible for their vineyards, their cellar and their region. They are constantly experimenting with everything from wild yeasts versus commercial yeasts to fermenting white wines with the skin to aging in steel tanks versus oak barrels. They also have cultivated many wonderful wine grapes rarely seen in New York, or anywhere in the country for that matter. Lagrein, our pizza eating juice of choice, is a grape native to the valleys of South Tyrol in northern Italy. We are so glad it got its passport.
Did we mention how all their grapes are hand-picked and stomped by foot, just like on “I Love Lucy”? As they put it: "We seek deliciousness," and they're willing to do whatever it takes to get there. We totally approve.
Especially with pizza.
It's #NationalPizzaWeek! To celebrate, we're 1. Eating a lot of pizza and 2. Talking about pizza all week. Don't miss yesterday's #MOUTHwatering post on pairing Mike's Hot Honey with, yep, pizza.