I have read numerous articles on pairing food and wine, and while some have it down to an exact science, I like to be a little more explorative when it comes to selecting the perfect pair to my dish.
As for the food side of it, this working mom has become best friends with the crock pot. I love that you can toss in all the ingredients in the morning, and then come home after a long day of work, or playing with little M, and VOILA’ dinner awaits you. The other added bonus, is the fact that when you walk in the house it smells like a yummy home cooked meal.
It has been a little chilly and breezy, so I thought it would be a great day for a beef stew of some sort. I went to my handy dandy circa 1990‘s “The Best Slow Cooker Cookbook Ever” (yes, that really is the name), and decided on ‘San Pasqual Beef Shanks with Black Beans’. Now, I feel I must confess -- admittedly the last time I attempted this recipe, it was a major fail! I forgot to soak the beans the night before and they were like rocks after cooking for 10 hours! Thankfully, my husband ended up sorting out the meat, and hominy so it was not a total waste. Well, I definitely like to think that I learn from my mistakes, and always try, try again, so this time the beans are soaked and I am looking forward to the result.
Now, what wine to pair with this yummy dish?
It is often thought that when you have a hearty, meaty dish, if you will, that you must have a bold red wine, like Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon, but this is not always the case. With this dish, due to inclusion of green and chipotle chiles that lend a pleasant, slightly smoky flavor and spice, I think we need a wine that has the right balance of acid to lend itself to the spice. Often times spicy dishes can be tricky when it comes to wine pairings and one of my favorites to pair with spice is Sauvignon Blanc. However, my best advice here, is to taste your dish and then think about the different wines you have on hand...Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir, etc. Then like a little black book, go through your memories of the tastes of these wines and see what you come up with for a pairing. You might not always choose the perfect pairing, but, over time, you will be able to make the match and learn why and how the different flavors go together, not to mention, it is a fun exercise. It reminds me of designing the perfect space, more specifically when you need to find that perfect piece to pair with another, the answer is always, per a great friend of mine, choose what you love and the rest will fall into place.
My wine pairing for tonight is a bright, rich, Santa Barbara County Chardonnay. Divine!