As you all know, one of the main focuses of my blog is finding great-priced, attainable, delicious wines. When roaming the liquor store, I tend to stick to a $20 price point (this may seem outrageous for my American readers, but I assure you this is reasonable here). While there are places to splurge: a special occasion, champagne, port, table wine needs to be accessible and affordable. Luckily, there are a lot of affordable wines out there so I’m happy to share them with you all!
I really like doing wine pairings with my meals. It may seem fussy (not what I’m about) but I assure you with a few tips and tricks, you’ll get the hang of it in no time. I wanted to serve a white with the butternut squash soup and harvest salad, a red with the chicken and a port for dessert. I often tend to stick to this variation: start with the lightest wine, move to a heavier option for dinner, and finish with the heaviest (and sweetest) in small quantities. Sometimes, I throw all of the rules out the window, but for the most part I like to progressively get heavier with the wine pairings. By the end of my dinner parties, after a nimble of port, you’ll be ready to snooze (or dance).
Read below for my pairings for the Butternut Squash Soup & Harvest Salad, the Chicken Marbella, and the Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes.
Moschofilero Boutari 2012 with Butternut Squash Soup and Harvest Salad
At $15.99 (this wine is on special until Nov 1), this Greek white really surprised and delighted me. Greek wine has a reputation for being very light – which is perfect with Greek food, but doesn’t lend itself to heavier flavours. The Moschofilero, on the other hand, is bursting with aromatic flavours and floral scents and stood up perfectly with the soup and salad.
With the Butternut Squash Soup, the wine tasted crisp, had hints of apple flavours, and cut through the creaminess of the dish. It was a perfect start to the meal, especially with the contrast of warm soup and refreshing wine. The wine brought out the sweetness of the soup while still injecting a hit of acidity. A great way to end the summer and start the fall.
With the Harvest Salad, the crispness of the wine matched the salad perfectly. It was a foil for the gouda honey thyme cheese as, again, it’s zesty profile cut through the creamy cheese and brought out the stronger herbaceous flavour.
This is the type of wine you can drink by itself or with light dishes.
2012 Brunel de la Gardine Côtes du Rhone with Chicken Marbella
It is rare to leave the liquor store with a great French wine that is under $20. At $17.99, this wine’s value is unparalleled. Upon first taste there are hints of blackcurrant and light tannins on the end. Throughout the meal, the wine completely opens up and shows more of its complexity. For this reason, I would reccomend pouring it into a decanter even just for a few moments to allow some oxygen through the wine. It has a good balance and the after taste is reminiscent of green pepper and blackberry.
It’s light, which allowed the strong chicken flavours to stand out, and fruit forward, which complemented the sweet undertones of the dish. The slight chocolate flavours allow the richness of the chicken filled with capers, bay leaves and olives to come to the surface. This is one of those reds that most people will gravitate towards, and is a safe bet for those who are new to red or new to wine pairing. It can be aged in your cellar (or wine rack) due to its Mourvèdre grape, allowing the smokey undertones to develop more and more.
Dow’s Ten Year Old Tawny Port and Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
When planning the Harvest Dinner, I wanted to keep it pretty simple. This, for me, meant buying dessert. While this may have been eschewed decades ago, in this day and age, sometimes you simply don’t have time to do it all. Enter Sweet Bake Shop, my go-to bakery in Yaletown for desserts and birthday cakes alike. Luckily, they had added some fall items to their menu, namely this Pumpkin Spice Cupcake which was perfect for finishing off the meal with. And, what is more perfect then some port at the end of a long dinner party?
At first sniff, the port is jammy and reminiscent of brown sugar and raspberries. As Port is much higher in alcohol, you can smell this ruminating off of the glass, but it is cut with the sweet undertones.
With the Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes, the intense dried fruit flavour allows you to sip slowly and enjoy. Surprisingly, the port cuts the sweetness of the cupcakes, allowing the spiced flavours to stand out and linger.
See – easy peasy! For your first wine pairing meal, trying pairing one or two wines and work your way up to it! It’s a fun process so enjoy!
Photos: Christie Graham Photography
Flowers: The Flower Factory
Wine: The Bacchus Group
Styling: Sophie Collins of Sip Savour Share