Point of View with Sage Creek Winery

Pairing Process

Point of View With Sage Creek Winery

When pairing wine with food, it is very important to place your wines in the correct order of tasting. The perfect tasting order only exists in the menu creator’s mind, but there is a right and wrong way to go about it. The wrong way is to believe that you aren’t allowed to put a red wine first, or with seafood; these ancient ideologies are as useful as a DVD player today, if you ask me. Once you let go of what you think you should do and start thinking of the possibilities, your pairings will get more and more interesting.

With names like Sooper Yooper and Honeydew Haze, you can’t go wrong with the large variety of unconventional local wines Sage Creek Winery, in Memphis, pumps out each harvest. Let us dive into one of their wines called “Bees Knees.” This juicy honey bomb is perfect to pair with something crisp and fun. When creating a pairing menu, I like to first think about color. What are the colors of the objects in the tasting characteristics, and can they transfer into ingredient, then to dish?

The Bee’s Knees is a rich and flavorful blend of vine-ripened peaches and Michigan honey. This medium-bodied white inspires me to pair it with a crisp, yet balanced salad I created called a Waldorf 360. I love playing with ingredients of traditional recipes sometimes to bring them back to life a little. In this case the ingredients are going toward a tarter spectrum of green with crisp green grapes, toasted almonds, green goddess dressing, pickled celery and butterhead lettuce. In this case I’m starting with a white, but it is a medium-bodied white with stern colorful notes and a heavier mouth feel.

My next course would be the Super Tuscan, a bold Italian wine with hints of vanilla, black pepper and firm tannins. It’s heavily oaked and full-bodied. On the nose, this wine reads fruit-forward and then on the finish you really get the bite of cracked peppercorn and tobacco.

For this wine I would like to combine notes from the beginning and end of my tasting experience therefore a perfect pairing would be an espresso-encrusted filet mignon I made while competing on Food Network. This dish is a perfect compilation of zest from the espresso crust to the sweet depth of the port wine reduction, then incorporating fat with my decadent duck fat caramelized artichokes and onions. The fatty finish allows for a rounded finale that works with the tannins to coat your palate in silk.

My last wine for this pairing must be Sage Creek’s Sooper Yooper – a bold and boozy shiraz infused with northern grown wild berries and hits of U.P. maple syrup and chocolate. I love shiraz as a pairing with dessert because of its deep characteristics and bold finish. I really want to work off the chocolate and accentuate the berries on this one so I think our flourless chocolate torte at Testa Barra would do the trick. I might add some brightness to a berry compote with orange zest and a hint of thyme for a herbaceous element. But for desserts and wine pairings, I like to keep it as simple as possible, so my guests don’t leave with a fatigued palate.

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