Thursday, May 24, 2012

An Interesting Pairing Featuring Pelaverga

The other night I had dinner with a few friends at a favorite Japanese restaurant. This is a place where diners select almost none of the dishes they will eat - the chef chooses, and it is not a sushi place. It's more of a home cooking situation. Anyway, with the consent of the owner, we bring our own wines (paying corkage fees), and I've found over the years that Sherry, Champagne, Loire Chenin Blanc, and other savory white wines go best with the variety of dishes.

Well on this night, I experienced a pairing that was completely new to me, and I enjoyed it immensely. My friend Mariko Kobayashi, an experienced NYC sommelier, brought the 2009 Castello di Verduno Basadone Pelaverga to the dinner. I'd never had a Pelaverga before. I remember that Jeremy Parzen wrote about it, and apparently it is an unusual wine even in Italy.

When would we drink this wine, I wondered. We had all sorts of other wine at the table, most of it the typical savory white wine we tend to drink with this food. Then, when we were served a lovely sashimi course, Mariko suggested that we try the Pelaverga with the Bonito sashimi. She said that the richness of the fish, and the smoky grilled exterior would pair well with the red wine.

She was right. I would never think of drinking red wine with Bonito (or Tuna or Mackerel), although maybe Poulsard would work. It would have to be a very light bodied red. This Pelaverga was not particularly light in color, but it reminded me of a Loire Valley Pineau D'Aunis with its floral and peppery fragrance and its fresh and energetic palate. It of course elevated the smoky character of the grilled portion of the fish, but I loved also how it brought out the meatiness of the Bonito and still refreshed the palate.

Another reminder to be open minded about pairing wine with food, and to let others guide us from time to time.


Erin O. said...

I usually order sake at Japanese restaurants, but I will keep Pelaverga and the others you mentioned in mind!

Saúl said...

What a timely post. I've been sitting on a Pelaverga not knowing what to pair it with as I've never had one before. I bought it based on the recommendation of Paul Marcus wines in Oakland, CA. It is the 2010 COMM.G.B.BURLOTTO. I will follow your advise tonight and put some tuna steaks on the grill! Cheers

Anonymous said...

Hello this is Alex from the wine forum Riesling is a great match for tuna or most fish. Another good white wine that works well is a Chardonnay. Chardonnay pairs well with fish.

keithlevenberg said...

I find myself drinking red wine with tuna sushi/sashimi now and then, dictated by the fact that the frequency with which I am in the mood for sushi exceeds the frequency with which I am in the mood for the particular wines and other beverages the C.W. regards as the customary accompaniments to sushi. When there is a lot of tuna and similarly rich fish on the plate, red Burgundy hits the spot. I would tend to favor pinot over poulsard, since I think you want something that's more about the umami than the mineral.

Benjamin said...

May I ask what the restaurant was? That sounds like an amazing place!