No, not nutty-crazy, nutty-nutty. Meaning, with nuts!
With apologies to the allergic amongst you, this is a post in praise of nuts.
Because they’re a bridge ingredient.
Because their addition to a dish can make the previously un-pairable not only pairable, but complementary.
The classic example is of course pesto. Without the pine nuts, the list of wines this sauce can successfully pair with diminishes exponentially.
Thus making the pine nuts the bridge ingredient; the bridge between the green astringency of the basil, and the architecture (fruit, spice, acid, tannin, alcohol) of the wine.
A nut can “rescue” many an ingredient from pairing obscurity, and often, it can return a great ingredient to its rightful throne in the aftermath of the oeno-culinary banishment a wine can impose. Meaning, things we love, that taste great on their own, are often doomed in the area of culinary companionability when it comes to wine pairing.
For me, there is no better example than the red pepper.
What a thing is a red pepper! Sweet, spicy, tangy, fresh, refreshing, textured, flavorful, delicious! But with wine? Woof …
Originating in Spain, this red pepper and nut sauce is magic with wine; made by our own Kathy Martinich and Ingrid Hagerstrom, it is most certainly magic with Ridge wines.
Served it earlier this week for a trade luncheon, and as the meal was presented buffet-style, the chosen dishes had to be crafted with maximum pairability in mind, as we wouldn’t be controlling who tasted what with what. On the tasting menu: Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Cabernet. Pretty much the full spectrum of flavors. Romesco? Delicious across the board!
Wait, did someone say “board?” Cheese board?
Yes, cheese is good with wine too.