The Makings of a Great Pairing

I’m coming down after a blissfully exhausting week, where I split my time and energy between my own kitchen and Parley Lake Winery.  What fun!

By far the most popular of the food pairings was the Mango Chutney, served on a small slice of organic white cheddar cheese and paired with the Frontenac Rosso wine.  I figured I’d focus on this pairing and why it worked so well… musings do a theory make, right?

Let’s see, Parley Lake Winery’s Frontenac Rosso.  It’s a rose wine…. a bit lighter than your standard red, but more robust than a white wine.

Rose wines are made by harvesting red wine grapes, pressing them to extract the juice (and get rid of the seeds and skins), and allowing the juice to ferment.  So unlike a red wine which has swum with its skins and seeds for awhile – which gives a red wine its tannins and usually creates more depth and complexity and richness- in contrast a red wine’s rose cousin, made from the same grape, is going to be a bit lighter in taste and perhaps more “spirited” in finish (as I like to call it).

This year’s Frontenac Rosso (the wine on the left side of the photo, which was not served chilled last weekend but certainly could be) is lighter in color than previous years… and I think it’s also lighter in taste and smoother than in previous years.  I think this is because of the really nice fall weather we had last year.  We didn’t end up harvesting the Frontenac grapes until relatively late in the season, which allowed them to hang onto the vine longer, get a bit more sun, develop a little more sugar, and reduce more of their natural acid.

Having partaken (is that the right way to say that?) in Frontenac Rosso for the past three seasons, I know my favorite pairing with the Rosso is acidic, spicy savory food like Italian spiced tomato sauce over pasta or a good pepperoni pizza.

So for the pairing last week, I knew I wanted to go in the spicy, tart direction.  What better than another chutney experiment, like the rhubarb chutney of two weeks ago?  But maybe more colorful- perhaps a beautiful orange chutney to contrast with the light red of the wine?  And perhaps something a little more sweet… to balance the nice tart acidity of the Rosso.

I found a basic Mango Chutney recipe that I modified only slightly- by reducing the amount of onion and garlic just a titch to ensure that the flavor wouldn’t be too strong as to overpower the wine.  I used superfine sugar to ensure the texture was very smooth on the tongue.  I increased the vinegar just slightly to increase the tang just slightly.  And finally I put in a small pinch of finely ground sea salt.

The result was a perfect pairing for the Rosso, but I didn’t want to serve it on a cracker… Rosso is spirited and the Mango chutney is spirited, so I needed a contrasting mouthfeel or texture.  Creamy cheddar cheese (white, not orange) was just the thing to serve the chutney on.

I tried the combination.  The Frontenac Rosso is nice and dry and left my mouth wanting some food.  The chutney delivers a punch of spicy ginger and lightly garlic flavor followed immediately by the smooth sweetness of the fresh mango within.  Then the creamy cheddar comes through to smooth out the flavor burst.  Last you’re left with the memory of the red Rosso on your tongue.

Perfecto.  No wonder there wasn’t any chutney left at the end of the day!  A perfect pairing indeed.



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