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Wacky Wine Pairing That Rocks!

March 6, 2011

Wine pairing can be tricky….yet easy. Simple, yet elusive. Here’s an interesting one that didn’t work at first, but then came back with roaring success!

Having prepared a dinner of baked trout with crab meat (ok, leftovers from Joe Pesce, a seafood restaurant in Collingswood) and stir-fried bok choy with mushrooms and garlic (home made this time!), I decided that a German Kabinett riesling would be good to try with the meal.

Now, I didn’t know whether this particular bottle was dry, a little off dry or a lot, which is partly why I was eager to open it and learn. It was a 2007 Joh. Jos. Christoffel Erben ‘Erdener Treppchen’ Riesling Kabinett. (Yes, the Germans sure do love their long wine names. For simplicity sake, it’s ok to just call this the Erben Riesling Kabinett without too much fear of confusing it with their other labels. The Erdener Treppchen refers to the vineyard that produced this wine, and a well-regarded vineyard it is.)

2007 Christoffel Erben Riesling Kabinett

The wine was tasty, definitely off-dry to medium-sweet with a typical German Riesling flavor profile of tropical fruits (pineapple, kiwi, banana, maybe even a little mango), a touch of honey, and some sweet spice; medium- to full-bodied with a medium length finish.

The wine was fun to sample before dinner, and a very good example of what a Kabinett riesling should be. But I have to admit, not the best match to the meal. The wine was sweeter than I would have chosen for this particular meal, and I do have a couple of dry Rieslings in the house that I could have chosen, but I really was eager (over-eager?) to open the bottle and try out this wine. It wasn’t a complete failure, but not that great and certainly not memorable.

After dinner is where things really got interesting. There was a box of Pfeffernusse cookies in the cupboard, purchased recently at Trader Joe’s for only .99¢. These are traditional German Christmastime cookies, so I took advantage of the fact that TJ’s was off-loading the leftovers from the past holiday season.

Yep, TJ's Pfeffernusse cookies and a Kabinett Riesling!

These cookies are a little soft in the middle, with a definite crunch on the outside. They are covered with powdered sugar, so they have some mouth-pleasing sweetness, but one that is not too overpowering, and lets in some spice of allspice and clove (does a cookie have a ‘finish?’).

Hmmm, German cookies that are a little sweet with a solid streak of spice, and a German wine that is a little sweet with a touch of spice. You see? Food pairing is simple and easy! Just match flavors. And regional cuisine (are cookies considered cuisine?) with regional wine.

But the cookies and the wine together? Sublime, delicious, and dare I say A Perfect Pairing!

The cookies washed down wonderfully with the wine, clearing the palate of the spice, and the wine seemed less-sweet when matched with the sugary coating on the cookies.

You can find this and more of my articles on Wine Life Magazine, www.winelifemagazine.com

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