Some sexy food and wine pairings to send off summer

  • Associated Press

    Associated Press

Updated 8/30/2021 4:49 PM

While we wait for the local restaurant scene to fully reopen, you -- like me -- may be looking for alternatives to dining out for exciting wine and food experiences as well as sustenance. Here are my most successful experiments; give them a try for your own sexy wine and food combinations to send off summer.

Quiche makes for an easy and satisfying breakfast, lunch or dinner and, with wine, decadence at any hour. Quiche incorporates cream, eggs and a buttery crust, which is a natural for the butter-loving Chardonnay grape. The addition of cow's milk cheese, such as Parmesan, ups the wow factor (or the "mmmm" factor, depending on the mood you're going for).


Ask your wine merchant for a Chardonnay with rich acid, generally from cool climates. For a light touch, try the 100% Chardonnay wines from Macon, France, with green apple acidity and unique mineral accents -- almost like a pinch of salt. My current fave: Macon Blanc, Thevenet et Fils "Pierrclos," under $20. For luxury, choose a lush, low-to-no oak California Chardonnay. Try Raeburn Chardonnay from the cool Russian River Valley, with layers of tree fruit, brown spice, vanilla flavors and balanced acid, under $20.

A beautifully balanced California Chardonnay also morphed a last-minute potluck contribution into a yummy culinary experience. When I saw "cream" in Papas a la Huancaina (Peruvian Potatoes with Cream Sauce) on my local Peruvian cafe's to-go menu, I knew the Chardonnay in my tote bag had a mate. In the sticky heat, the chilled potato slices slathered in sauce, paired with rich but refreshing wine, were literally melt-in-the-mouth good! Look for Chardonnay labels Balletto, Dutton-Goldfield, Wente or Raeburn.

When developing my Food and Wine Pairing Class at The Chopping Block, I knew the Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart would be a hit with sauvignon blanc. But what gave me, chefs and guests a real surprise came next: sauvignon blanc with beef tenderloin and salsa of parsley, capers, anchovies and red chili flakes. We poured Sauvignon Blanc "MAX" from Chilean producer Errazurriz ($18 at TCB), herbal and dry with dynamic acidity that cleansed the palate, almost like the tannic acid of red wine. During warm weather, try this refreshing white wine with a red meat alternative.

You can test the rules of wine and food on Friday, Sept. 3, during my Summer Food and Wine Pairing on The Chopping Block's Patio, 4747 N. Lincoln Ave., in Chicago. In a mix-and-match of four wines and three courses, we'll taste and discuss proven pairing techniques so that you can decide on rules of your own. For information and to register, please visit The Chopping Block Calendar at

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Sauvignon blanc's food complements are color-coded -- think green: green herbs, green vegetables and green olives -- which are notoriously tricky to pair with wine. But I had only red wine to pair with my Cerignola's, so I stuffed a few with blue cheese and opened Chile's signature red -- Carmenere, my producer of choice being Casa Silva (under $15), plump and chewy, with ripe fruit flavors and rich herbal accents to mirror the olive's green flavors. Not a shy combination, this is a nosh for folks who enjoy the "more is more" flavor.

With Vidalia onion season at its end, I'm purchasing these seasonal treats from Georgia whenever I can find them. But with their unique sweetness, Vidalias make a bone-dry wine taste bitter. I found the answer at Chicago's boutique wine shop, In Fine Spirits, 5418 N. Clark St. -- La Bas Gewurztraminer from Somontano, Spain, with characteristic white pepper and lychee flavors, and the same level of sweetness as a Vidalia (about $14). Throughout the fall and winter, I'll enjoy the Gewurz with sweeter seafood, cured meats and poultry, waiting for the April release of 2022's Vidalias. As the poet, Shelley wrote, "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"

• Mary Ross is an Advanced Sommelier (Court of Master Sommeliers), a Certified Wine Educator (Society of Wine Educators) and recipient of the Wine Spectator's "Grand Award of Excellence." Write to her at

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