What comes first for you when pairing food and wine, the food or the wine? Do you go to a restaurant and choose your wine first or your entrée?
A few weeks ago it was “Open That Bottle Night” #OTBN. (More About #OTBN here ) I had been saving a bottle of 2012 Domaine Jean-Michel Gaunoux Pommard Les Perrières for that just right occasion to pair with just the right dinner. For me, in this case, the wine came first. Then, I decided on a chicken recipe, chicken breasts in a tart cherry Pinot Noir sauce. The recipe sounded like it would pair well with the savory, fruity, earthy flavors I expected to find in the wine.
My Tasting Notes
2012 Domaine Jean-Michel Gaunoux, Pommard Les Perrières
13% abv | $60 Highland Fine Wine
Les Perrières vineyard located in the Pommard village of the sub-region of Côte de Beaune in Burgundy.
Soil type: limestone rock with 35% clay
Harvest: by hand
Aging: oak barrels (15-30% new) & the rest one-year-old, racked into neutral vats after 15-16 months
Ruby in color. Medium+ acidity, medium bodied with structured, tight tannins. Notes of earthy forest floor, herbs, and a hint of cherries.
Conclusion: This wine needed to be saved for a future #OTBN. Pinot Noir from Pommard is known for their firm tannins and acidity. The wine needed more time to develop and soften. A Pinot Noir with more fruit character would be a better match for the chicken with tart cherries. Thank goodness I had another Pinot Noir that I had been saving…
2015 Balletto Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
14.1% abv | $29 SRP (sample)
The grapes come from the cool southern third of the Russian River Valley, 100% estate grown.
Aging: French oak barrels (32% new)
Ruby in color with a hint of violet. Fragrant nose of red fruit and allspice. Nicely balanced with medium body, acidity, and tannins. On the palate notes of black cherry, pomegranate, and hints of earthiness.
Conclusion: The Balletto Pinot Noir was a beautiful pairing with the chicken breasts in tart cherry Pinot Noir sauce. The fruit, savory notes of herbs, garlic, onions, and shiitake mushrooms in the chicken dish were in perfect balance with those elements in the wine. Unlike the pairing with the Pommard Pinot Noir, the fruit and umami flavors found in the chicken dish left the Pommard tasting out of balance and harsh.
When it comes to pairing food and wine, you need to be flexible. I usually have a menu in mind first when I am cooking at home and try to taste a wine before pairing it with the food or I have a few backup options on hand, just in case. However, at a restaurant, it can be fun to check the wine list and select a wine you have wanted to try and ask for pairing suggestions from the menu. In any case, food and wine pairings are an adventure, try them and YES, “Open That Bottle Now (to Night)!”
Check out my fellow Wine Pairing Weekend (#WinePW) bloggers and their #OTBN pairings at the bottom of this post. Join the conversation about #OTBN and special wine and food pairings by joining our live Twitter chat. Tune into the #winePW hashtag on Saturday, March 10, 11 am ET / 8 am PT to join the conversation.
A balance of savory earthy flavors with notes of cherries makes for a beautiful pairing with Balletto Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley.
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- Kosher sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 shallots, peeled and halved
- 8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, destemmed and halved or quartered
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 and 3/4 cups Pinot Noir
- 1 and 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 4 sprigs thyme, tied together in a bundle + extra leaves for garnish
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2/3 cup dried tart cherries
Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chicken breasts and sauté for about 5 minutes total or until they are golden on both sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the shallots and shiitake mushrooms to the frying pan and sauté over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and continue to sauté for about 1 minute. Add the 1 and 3/4 cups Pinot Noir to the pan and increase heat to high. Cook stirring until reduced about 7 minutes. Add the chicken broth and thyme bundle and return to a boil.
Add the chicken breasts back to the pan along with the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and dried tart cherries. Spoon some of the sauce over the chicken breasts. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover pan. Cook for about 20 minutes. Remove cover and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes or until chicken breasts are cooked (internal temperature 160 degrees F)
Serve over farro and garnish with thyme leaves.
My Fellow Wine Pairing Weekend Bloggers’ Adventures with “Open That Bottle Night”
Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog will post “A Journey To Iberia And Beyond for Open That Bottle Night #WinePW”
Lori from Dracaena Wines will share “Emotion, Not Money or Age for this #OTBN #WinePW“
Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm is posting “Instant Pot Irish Stew with a White Cheddar Crust #EattheWorld #winePW #OTBN”
Jane from Always Ravenous served “Chicken Breasts in a Tart Cherry Pinot Noir Sauce #winePW #OTBN“
Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla paired “Brisket over Butter-Braised Leeks + Hundred Suns’ Ciel du Cheval 2015“
Nicole from Somm’s Table will share “The Big 10, Champagne, Burgundy, and #OTBN.“
Gwendolyn at Wine Predator will blog about “Open that Bottle Night 2018: Ranchita Canyon Vertical Paired with Lasagna for #WinePW“
Here on Cooking Chat I will post “Roasted Lamb Chops with Blackberry Sauce for #OTBN #winePW“