Soy sauce and red Burgundy

Seems unexpected: soy sauce in Pinot Noir? Standard red Burgundy descriptions of cherry and earth that are present in most red Burgundy tasting notes are nothing to write home about. What's always remarkable and inspiring to me are the out-of-place tastes I occasionally discern in wine, especially when it's paired with the right food.

The secret to my pork ribs is gentle boiling with asian spices for 1-1.5 hours, and then quickly baking / broiling while applying several layers of the secret sauce, soy sauce being one major ingredient. The amazing thing is how well this 2005 Domaine Rene Lecrerc Gevrey Chambertin "Les Champeaux" Burgundy complemented the ribs, bringing out the darker "soy sauce meets cola" flavors of the wine.

I had already observed that Pinot Noir and Gamay pair well with Cantonese food. Slowly a hypothesis crystallized - I started figuring out that it may be due to the common use of soy-sauce in Cantonese cooking. Last night was the second time I tried the ribs / red Burgundy combo - the first time the ribs had been slow-cooked in a clay-pot, while this time I thought the baked flavor was an even better match to this substantial Burg from the stellar 2005 vintage.

And the thing is - had I not had the ribs, I probably would have never found soy sauce in the wine. Ah, the rare moments of brilliance, they are always so heart-warming and so unexpected!


Eric said…
Thought I'd give you my two cents on food and wine pairing. The most important thing is to match the weight and intensity of the wine to that of the food. This is 90% of wine pairing:

Food [weight] = Wine [weight]
Food [flavor intensity] = Wine [flavor intensity]

In this respect the sauce of foods is a critical component to understand.

Matching flavors is secondary to the above fundamentals and far more subjective. Flavors detail beyond red fruit, black fruit, herbaceous, etc. is completely subjective. The reality is that a wine doesn't have the taste of "strawberries" for example. It's creative license and is largely the imagination that projects this "strawberry" flavor onto the wine. Have you seen those chefs on Hell's Kitchen taste foods blind? Most people couldn't identify real strawberry or raspberry flavors tasting the actual foods blind let alone those flavors in wine for example. People identify with flavors however and it is far more sexy to talk about them than matching weight or intensity. People say, "oh this wine has nutmeg." I wonder if those people could identify nutmeg itself blind.
Dan Raveneau Harlander said…
Jeez Eric, that really makes wine sound like fun, NOTTT! I'll keep my beloved "fields of wild violet and smoky incense" draped in "oozing strawberry cassis" with a dash of "bitter chocolate and espresso", haha!

My descriptors are always crazy and flowery, but that's because I like the spontaneity and creativity of the words the experience gives me. I decided long ago that after 6 agonizing years of engineering school, I wasn't gonna apply formulas to the pure pleasure of vino...

Now the table I saw at Zibibbo with Silver Oak and oysters--now THAT's unforgiveable!


See y'all Thursday!
Eric said…
Dan, you're expertly spinning what I said. You've obviously spent too much time in the studios of XXX News! There are no formulas just basic principles. I should have use the words "match" or "pair". These are the same kind of principles you use when cooking, making a flan, a stew or a salad for that matter. And that kind of wholesome cooking is great fun.

Flavors are fun and appealing. The problem is people take their flowery fantasy totally too seriously. :P
Dan Harlan Raveneauer said…
Yep Eric, agree 100%! When I see someone plopping down $500 on a wine because Parker gives it huge points and calls it "the essence of roasted meats and crushed stones" I am just dumbfounded...

Back to my day job trying to make PC processors sound interesting.. You KNOW I am a spinner if I can do that, hahahaha!
half_bottle said…
To the point that flavors in wine are subjective and largely imaginative by the taster, I'd say that the concept of "perfect pairing" of food & wine is also a subjective matter in itself. So subjectivity matches perfectly with subjectivity in this case ;P

The beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And that's why wine is as interesting a subject as it is. Matching weight and intensity of food and wine makes scientific sense and is definitely part of the food/wine pairing mystery, while matching flavor profiles just makes both the wine and food that much more enjoyable, and that's why we drink and eat as often as we do.
Iron Chevsky said…
I can see that weight and intensity in food and wine should match. In the example in this blog post, both the ribs and the Burgundy had intense flavor. The weight is harder for me to assess in food. For instance, I think a medium-bodied Barolo goes with steak, which one might consider heavy. Other exceptions occur, such as light-bodied Champagne matching heavy foods too (such as brie). I however give as much importance to the flavor match, which does make pairings more diverse and interesting than just weight to weight and intensity to intensity. That said, I appreciate Eric's non-trivial insight and will keep it in mind in the future as I examine pairings.
Sara Reid said…
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