The long line of zinfandel enthusiasts outside the Concourse at last night’s ZAP event showed that the perennially creative pairings of zinfandel and food is always worth waiting for. With zinfandel’s full-body and silky tannins, it’s surprisingly versatile with a wide variety of foods. More than 50 Bay Area chefs displayed their talents with ingredients ranging from meats, vegetarian, soups and sashimi.
Perfectly balanced dish + perfectly balanced wine = perfect
The richness of Wayfare Tavern’s braised lamb shoulder infused with blood orange was balanced with the bite of white anchovy salsa verde, the freshness of winter greens and the crunch of pan-fried black pepper spaetzle. It paired beautifully with the perfectly balanced Ridge Vineyard 2009 Lytton Springs Zinfandel.
Matching body with body in vegetarian dishes
Vegetarian food can be tricky to pair with fuller-bodied red wines, but the Fairmont Hotel’s culinary team had a winner with their honey-roasted winter squash bruschetta. The meatiness of the butternut squash and sweet potatoes and the creaminess of Bellwether Farms ricotta cheese on dense walnut bread matched the full body of Three Wine’s Old Vines Zinfandel from Contra Costa. The cinnamon and cumin spice on the squash complemented the spice in the wines.
Matching zinfandel with Asian flavors
Red wines are difficult to pair with asian flavors because ingredients like soy can react with tannins to create a slight metallic taste. Not so with the silky tannins of Claudia Springs 2007 Mendocino Zinfandel. The smooth texture of Pacific Catch Restaurant’s raw Ahi tuna poke complemented the full body of the zinfandel while the ginger, sesame and chili flavors complemented the spice in the wine.
Matching difficult-to-pair foods like soup becomes less difficult with zinfandel
Soups are one of those categories that can be difficult to pair with wine. Bocanova Restaurant served up a savory duck pozole with Guajillo chiles that was as rich and spicy as Selby’s 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel from Sonoma County.
“The king of meats with the king of wines”
Some things are just meant to be said the team at Mustards Grill. Their pork tostaditas with habanero salsa met the spice of Outpost’s 2009 Howell Mountain Zinfandel. Meanwhile, Oakland’s Pican Restaurant served up a rich smoked Berkshire pork in a savory mole ground with chilis, chocolate, coffee, cinnamon and pumpkin seeds, served over marscapone grits. Really? The flavorful and very rich dish was contrasted by the freshness of Carol Shelton’s 2008 Wild Things Old Vine Zinfandel from Mendocino.
Explore all the spicy, savory and earthy flavors of fruity zinfandel at the Grand Tasting tomorrow, January 28th at the Concourse in San Francisco starting at 2:00 pm for the general public, 1:00 pm for members. For more information, check the website, tickets available at the door.