Last weekend my “Supper Swap” group met again for the first time in a while. (We try to meet at least quarterly, picking a theme to inspire our respective culinary adventures for the night and otherwise help us break out of any cooking ruts we may have fallen into.) As we sat around the table discussing our “Summer-is-coming” dishes and what changes we would make to the recipes, I realized I have gotten away from discussing food more specifically in relation to wine on the Pour Favor blog. I’ve been talking wine first, then food. But most of the time we work the other way around, right? You pick your meal or what you are going to chef, and then select a bottle to accompany it.
Food is important.
I mean, yeah, there is the whole sustenance factor, lol. But in seriousness, wine is meant to be enjoyed with food. There are certainly some that excel on their own; but for the most part winemakers hope their wares grace your table and, ideally, take on a whole new meaning when matched with a wonderful meal.
This isn’t to say we should always strive for the perfect pairing. Nonsense! Rather, we should be mindful that the components which make a wine a wine – fruit, acidity and tannin – are elements that, by nature, are designed for food. On that note, let’s start talking about the union of food and wine over the next few weeks, shall we?
Supper Swap dish #1: Watermelon, mint salad.
Apparently this dish was inspired by the Mustard Seed restaurant out in Davis, CA. Now their (online) recipe calls for cucumber, watermelon, mint and feta – but my friend recalled it with red onion, watermelon, mint and feta. Either which way you slice it, this salad was terrific. A true summer crowd pleaser. Fresh, healthy and delicious. And there is literally nothing more to it than dicing up the ingredients and tossing them together.
What wine would pair? This dish is incredibly versatile. But my instinct is to go for a terrific, DRY, rose – still OR sparkling! Rose tends to have terrific strawberry, raspberry or watermelon characteristics. One with more minerality (typically French offerings from areas such as Provence) or a more spice-nuanced flavor profile would be best because of the mint, bite of onion and slight richness to the feta. You can certainly try one with more fruit-forward flavors. But the watermelon on its own is so delicious, I’d want something nuanced in other ways to draw out it’s more subtle, secondary (et. al.) flavors.
White varietals to consider would be Spanish Albarino or Txakoli or lesser known/sought French offerings like Muscadet, Gros Manseng and Picpoul. Sauvignon Blanc might be an easier grab-and-go choice that would certainly work. Simply think crisp, refreshing, minerality.
Prefer red? Try a fruity, ligher-styled, dry summer red. You don’t want to upstage the juicy watermelon on your plate!
What wine(s) would you pick for this dish?