We know. Weeknight dinner can be a drag. That’s why we’re providing three popular dishes, paired with wines, so that you don’t have to think about dinner tonight (or the night after, or the night after that). Pairing food and wine isn’t actually that hard. (Take it from this writer who happens to be a Certified Sommelier.) It just comes down to a few basic principles.
- Pair similar flavors with similar flavors (spicy wines with spicy foods, for instance, or crisp wines with acidic foods).
- Or, pair polar opposites (high-acid wines with rich foods or sweet wines with spicy foods).
- You can also pair foods and wines that grow in the same area (Brittany oysters with Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc or Pacific Coast salmon with Oregon Pinot Noir).
The idea behind pairing food and wine from the same region is that the two share the same terroir, a French word that refers to how a particular place’s soil, climate, and water influence the flavors of local wines and foods.
Still, you may feel wary about taking the reins as your home’s resident sommelier. That’s where Firstleaf comes in. Firstleaf offers award-winning wines at up to 60 percent off retail prices. An introductory quiz helps define what you do and don’t like when it comes to wine, from color to sweetness to overall style. A shipment of six wines is then curated specifically for you.
How does Firstleaf get your palate so right? They ask targeted questions about what you like to eat and drink (some of the tasting cues include briny olives, earthy mushrooms, and bright citrus). Once you start rating their wines, they can predict what to send you next with 98% accuracy. The end result is a selection of wines that really speaks to what you like to drink. Read on for what to pair with three of our favorite dishes.
Baked Feta Pasta
This social media phenomenon is great for numerous reasons. First, it’s easy. With only a handful of ingredients—tomatoes, thyme, lemon, shallot, garlic, feta, and pasta—and a method that can best be described as “combine and cook,” this is the creamy pasta dish that low-maintenance dreams are made of. In 45 minutes, you can have a hearty, delicious, homemade meal on the table.
So what should you pair with it? The Disorderly Conduct, from Paso Robles, California, is a rich, thoughtful wine made from Grenache Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc that stands up to this substantive dish. Another great option is the Sangiovese-based Tenuta di Innanzi Tutto, a tart, savory red wine that is the ideal complement to this dish’s roasted tomatoes.
As with all Firstleaf wines, the above selections show consumers exactly how much they’d be saving per bottle (members receive all bottles for $13.33 apiece, though the Disorderly Conduct and Tenuta di Innanzi Tutto retail for $15 and $26, respectively).
Lemon Asparagus Chicken Pasta
Bright spring flavors are the name of the game in this easy chicken and asparagus dish. The result is a skillet dish that is salty, creamy, and bright. And although asparagus is a particularly tricky food to pair with wine (it has a very specific flavor and aroma that can be disruptive when paired with acid, alcohol, or tannin), there’s no shortage of options.
Quartz Bay’s grassy, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand picks up on the asparagus’ deep vegetal notes. St. Audette Nuit’s Pinot Noir, from France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region brings an earthy quality to the table. Which bottle’s for you? That Firstleaf wine quiz will point you in the right direction.
Sheet Pan Citrus-Glazed Chicken
If there’s such a thing as a kitchen MPV, the humble sheet tray is definitely it. This mouth-watering dish, which combines oranges, soy sauce, Brussels sprouts, chicken thighs, rosemary, and Dijon mustard, is full of savory-sweet notes.
The Still & Co. Syrah, from Washington, boasts deep, black fruit and a backbone of spice, a stellar counter to this dish’s umami-forward elements. Or lean into the honeyed notes of the dish’s roasted citrus with the John Calvin Esq., a Chenin Blanc from the Swartland region of South Africa. Better yet: sign up for a Firstleaf membership and receive both options as part of your order. Mmm, we’re getting
thirsty hungry just thinking about it.
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