I am always interested in food & wine pairing no matter what, but I am particularly intrigued by rather more unorthodox pairings; being the employee of a producer whose portfolio is heavy on the red side, I confess to growing just a tad bored with the red-wine-and-meat paradigm that seems to come down the pipe so often, and accordingly, I find myself often investigating the more rarefied options out there.
One way to do this, though certainly not the only way, is to go sans meat altogether. Whenever I set out on this particular trail, I’ll confess to loading my pack with Geyserville more often than not; it is such an extraordinarily complex wine, yet it manages to compress its complexities into such a lethally seamless and gentle package, that I find it almost always does the job regardless of the “weight” of the dish.
Which leads me to the pairing in question which is the core subject of this post, and let me preface this by saying that this pairing is truly OTHERWORDLY!
Ok, one more digression:
As far as food & wine pairing goes, I feel there to be essentially four tiers:
1. The pairing is so bad it actually makes two independently tasty options taste terrible when tasted together.
2. The pairing is essentially neutral; they don’t clash, but neither do they harmonize, they simply co-exist.
3. The pairing is a good one; the two components interact effectively, and complement one another’s respective profiles.
4. The pairing is magic! A pure case of the total being greater than the sum of the parts; what you end up tasting is neither the wine nor the food per se, but rather, some new third taste that doesn’t independently exist without the cojoinment of the components. When, like true love, each independent entity dissolves and disappears into the other, and from this miasma emerges something ever more stronger altogether.
This was just such a pairing; that last one. With the mojo.
I am as of yet nearly speechless as regards trying to describe it.
The title of the dish itself may sound inelegant, if you’re not conversant with some of the peculiarities of vegetarian and vegan cooking, but rest assured, the proof is in the pudding, or should I say, the sauce. In this dish’s case, the sauce-sponge of record was braised seitan — probably the meatiest of the non-meat options out there, and a particularly adept absorber of umami savoriness — making the dish Braised Seitan with Black Pepper Plum Sauce.
And it’s with the Black Pepper Plum Sauce that the mojo resides; a mouthful of this spicy, savory, unctuous, salty deliciousness is enough to make a man make inappropriate noises at the table; add to this a heady quaff’s of Geyserville, and a moment alone is decidedly required.
2008 Geyserville and Braised Seitan w/ Black Pepper Plum Sauce. The mojo.