Musings on Wine
Spaghetti Bolognese and Napa Chardonnay…Really?
Every once in a while the most remarkable wine and food match comes right up behind you. With friends from Alberta arriving for dinner in a few days, and a rather comprehensive multi-course feast planned, it was imperative that I use up leftovers so that I would have adequate fridge space for my pre-prepped items. White asparagus soup with prawns, steak with homemade frites, a selection of cheeses and chocolate fondue required that I cook in advance so I might actually get time with my friends instead of slaving over the Thermidor the entire night.
Whilst searching the interior of the fridge, I came across an impressive collection of leftovers, amongst whom I found two different Bolognese sauces. The first was a classic Bolognese, whereas the second utilized cayenne pepper spiced pork sausage in lieu of the standard meat. I elected to cook up some spaghetti and mix the two sauces together. The overall impression of heat in the final blend was quite subtle and the rich tomato sauce and olive oil flavours still dominated. The wine I selected was based purely on my mood at the time, which was to satisfy my desire for a buttery, yet fresh and full-flavoured white while I was cooking and tasting the sauces (from my Galloping Gourmet watching days). I was aware that the food match would take a back seat to my craving, however I pushed bravely on ahead.
My wine selection was a 2008 Clos du Val Chardonnay from Napa Valley, California. A fairly typical Napa Chard, this one is pleasantly buttery, lightly oaked and shares apple, pineapple and mild spice notes. What astounded me was how the wine improved greatly alongside the spaghetti Bolognese! A mouthful of the wine, followed by the food and I was suddenly struck with just how magnificently the caramel oak tones of the Chardonnay emerged and the once hidden bright green bite of the parsley garnish jumped to life. While the spice and oak danced nicely on my tongue, the buttery wine and sausage fat were in perfect harmony.
It reminded me of the time when famed wine writer Jancis Robinson stumbled across the most unusual and delightful pairing of Zinfandel and taramasalata. Never in a million years would one recommend the two together aware that big reds and anything to do with fish oils was certain disaster. How nice it is to be surprised with such unexpected things!