Wine Recs from Patrick Keane
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.
The Internet has democratized and made wine discovery and buying extraordinarily easy and cost effective. I use a combination of Web sites and iPhone apps to purchase and find more information about my favorite producers, regions and varietals.
www.wine-searcher.com offers a global database of over 16,000 merchants making price comparisons simply and elegantly. I pay $29.95 per year for access to their most comprehensive listings.
Two very useful iPhone apps for wine discovery and pricing are RedLaser and WinePrices powered by Vinfolio. RedLaser is a barcode scanner that lets you search Google product search. You can apply this technology to wine, using your phone camera to scan bottle barcodes to make certain you are getting the best price. WinePrices is a simple database which allows you to search by vintage and producer.
What about Asian appetizers with spring rolls, prawn crackers, sesame toast, etc.?
To complement the juxtaposition of strong spicy and sweet flavors of Asian foods I recommend the outstanding Alsatian Riesling producer Zind-Humbrecht. Reasonably priced and arguably the top produce in Alsace. Their wines combine strong sugar and strong acidity to hold up to Asian flavors. Their 2005 Turckheim Reisling can be found for $27.50 at TCWC.com
When serving a cheese course with a strong, smelly cheese included, what do you suggest?
There are numerous schools of thought for wines to complement funky, fragrant, salty cheeses. For my taste I like the earthy often equally funky flavors of red Burgundy. Unfortunately the best burgundian Pinot Noirs are challenging to find at reasonable prices. I recommend 2 selections from the 2002 vintage: Domaine Jacques Prieur Grand Cru from the Clos Vougeot appellation. It’s pricey at north of $100 but the barnyard funky aromas and taste go nicely with strong cheeses. The Domaine Henri Gouges from the Nuits St. George appellation is less funky and still quite young but will also pair nicely with cheeses.
So many restaurants these days serve homey, rustic dishes; for simply prepared roast chicken and root vegetables, what’s a good choice?
For Roast Chicken I recommend a more fruit forward California or Oregon Pinot Noir. The strong cherry and fruit components nicely complement the saltiness and texture of chicken. Flowers is an excellent producer of on the Sonoma Coast. Their wines are reasonably priced and The 2007 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir can be found for $35 from numerous retailers online. Some of my other favorite California Pinot producers include: Dumol, Kistler, Aubert and Kosta Browne.
What goes well with an Italian pasta in a tomato based sauce?
For me, Barolo is the perfect accompaniment to any pasta with tangy red sauce. The generally heavy tannins and silky mouth feel of the Nebbiolo grape were made for this kind of dish. While slightly lighter in color and structure Barbaresco wines also go nicely with pastas. Like the reds of Burgundy, Barolos from Italy’s Piedmont region are expensive and its younger vintages are generally not accessible today. Two of my favorite producers are Conterno and Vietti. The 2004 Vietti Barolo Castiglione is relatively inexpensive (by Barolo standards) and can be found under $40. When impressing your oenophile cronies splurge on an older Barolo. The 1997 Conterno Fantino Barolo Sori Ginestra can be found at about $100.
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?
Barbera is one of more immediately accessible Italian grape varietals. It’s generally inexpensive extraordinarily fruit forward and flavorful and you can drink these wines young. Some might find the intensely ripe raspberry and black cherry flavors over the top for pork, but I think it’s the perfect accompaniment for a pan roasted bone in pork chop. Conterno and Vietti make a number of sub $25 barberas but my all time favorite barbera producer is Braida. The 2004 Braida Bricco dell Uccellone Barbera d’Asti is fantastic and can be found for about $50.
Granache, the prevailing grape in the French wines of Chateauneuf-du-pape is a perfect match for the gamy taste of lamb. These wines are often high in alcohol and posses an equally gamy, earthy fruit driven texture. The venerable wine critic Robert Parker Jr. is often credited (or vilified by CDP freaks who complain about the resulting price inflation) with putting the wine of Chateauneuf-du-pape on the map. These wine represent some of the best wines and arguably offer the best value for any high end wine region or varietal. My favorite CDP producers include:
- Chateau de Beaucastel
- Clos de Papes
- Single vineyard CDP’s can be tough to find and incredibly expensive. The 2005 Guigal Chateauneuf-du-Pape can be found online for $35.
For meat eaters, what are a few great bottles to go with a steak or a big juicy hamburger?
Prevailing wisdom for steak suggests a jammy and bold Cabernet Sauvignon. And while I too like a nice cabernet with red meat I would recommend selecting a granache based varietal from the Southern Rhone.
Zinfandel is an excellent accompaniment to a charbroiled and pan fried burger. Zinfandel is arguably the most American of all wine varietals grown in the U.S. Red Zinfandel (stay far away from it’s white distant bland cousin) offers a tannic, peppery bomb of explosive fruit and high octane. These wines can approach north of 16% alcohol. Zinfandel also offers some of the best value available in wine today. One of my favorite producers is Ridge Vineyards. Ridge makes excellent cabernets and chardonnays but the winery made its bones with Zin. A great value, the 2007 Ridge Three Valleys Zinfandel can be found online for about $17. Side note: The Ridge label design aesthetic is unparalleled in my opinion.
Patrick Keane is a former senior executive with Google and CBS. He is currently CEO of Associated Content, The People’s Media Company, a place where anyone can publish and share their knowledge and expertise with nearly 30 million people each month.