Food

Wine Recs from Andrew Marston

Pairing the right wine with your meal can be so difficult; there are so many flavors to balance and courses in the meal to consider. Scratch your head no more, we’ve asked for suggestions from a team of knowledgeable wine connoisseurs—big-time sommeliers, an at-home aficionado and an insider in the business.


Q

I love salad with seasonal greens and often find that a strong vinegary dressing can really throw off the flavor of a great wine. Do you have any suggestions for a wine that can take vinegar on?

A

To take on the acidity of the vinegar you need a wine that can compete in the acidity stakes. I love the dry crisp grassy flavor of Sancerre or Pouilly Fume from the Loire Valley. An equally good match is a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or an Italian Pinot Grigio. Stay away from wines that have been aged in oak.


Q

If you’re serving a variety of appetizers that have ingredients like smoked salmon and raw onion, what might work?

A

Dare I say this—lose the raw onion and enjoy the salmon flavor. A dry and crisp white or Champagne. For crisp whites I prefer a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Italian Gavi, or Sancerre. For Chamapagne I prefer a Brut (dry) non vintage or a vintage that is not too old. Look for something around 5-6 years.


Q

What about Asian appetizers with spring rolls, prawn crackers, sesame toast, etc.?

A

The wines of Alsace offer great flavors than can be paired with Asian or spicy foods. Dry Riesling, Pinot Blanc, or Pinot Gris will handle the Asian flavors very well. A Gewürztraminer has a very unique flavor of lychees and can handle spicy foods and curries very well.


Q

When serving a cheese course with a strong, smelly cheese included, what do you suggest?

A

Often the best thing for a cheese board is to keep enjoying the wine that was served with the main course. Save the smelly cheese for last and serve with a Port or Sauternes.

Port and Sauternes are too strong for the milder cheese, and the main course wine is too weak for the stronger cheeses.


Q

So many restaurants these days serve homey, rustic dishes; for simply prepared roast chicken and root vegetables, what’s a good choice?

A

Pick big wines that will also warm you: Californian or Australian reds, Shiraz, Zinfandel, or Cabernet Sauvignon.


Q

What goes well with an Italian pasta in a tomato based sauce?

A

Chianti is really at home here.


Q

How about Pan-seared tuna?

A

A lot would also depend on the sauce being served with the tuna. Pinot Gris or Reisling (dry) from Alsace. White Burgundy or Californian Chardonnay that is not matured in too much oak all work.


Q

What about white fish in general?

A

For lighter flaky white fish I like a light Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. This very much depends on the sauce as often the sauce is what you will have to pair with the food. For more meaty white fish like Seabass Pinot Gris or Riesling (dry) from Alsace, white Bordeaux.


Q

What’s a nice light wine for a summery meal of salads and a variety of grains?

A

I like a nice chilled Rose wine made from the Pinot Noir grape, or a Chenin Blanc from South Africa. I also like Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, or a Pinot Grigio from Italy or California.


Q

What are your favorite dessert wines?

A

Personally I like the wines from the township of Barsca which is within the district of Sauternes and a part of the Bordeaux region of France. I find them to be a little lighter than the wines of Sauternes. One of my favorites is Château Coutet

  • Eiswien always makes for an interesting change (grapes are picked and crushed while naturally frozen).

  • Coutet, (Barsac), 2006 $58

  • PMC, Eiswein (Burgenland) 375ml, 2004 $12


Q

For meat eaters, what are a few great bottles to go with a steak or a big juicy hamburger?

A

With steak I like to go for something with a little more than just a plain Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. These five grapes are typically found in France’s region of Bordeaux where they have made some of the world’s best wines. In California, if two or more of these grapes are used, they are can use the term Meritage. In Italy they often add these varities to Sangiovese and call them Super Tuscan wines.


Q

Friends are constantly asking what to pair with pork and lamb, which have distinct flavors and are hard to match. What are a few good options?

A

Pinot Noir is a good match. It is one of the most wonderful grapes in the world when made well, and it’s the sole red grape of Burgundy in France, which is unquestionably the best and most expensive. For the more budget conscious, look in the regions of Oregon or California.

Note: The website Sherry Lehmann has a great collection of wines, and will deliver to all states that wine can be delivered to.

Andrew Marston has been a professional sommelier for over 10 years. During his career he has recommended and paired wines with menus for Queen Elizabeth II, dignitaries and some of the world’s most famous celebrities. He also served on the QEII ocean liner and tenured at the Setai Hotel luxury resort in South Beach, Miami, Florida.

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