Last week, Chef Matt was serving a dish of pappardelle pasta with braised rabbit, wild mushrooms, provolone picante, and shaved green onions. This dish is packed with rich, savory flavors accented by little bursts of freshness from herbs and shaved green onions. The cheese, Mandarone Provolone, is a three year aged provolone cheese made in the mountainous Varese province of Northern Italy. It’s nothing like the common provolone cheese found in most delis. Mandarone Provolone is much dryer, nuttier, sharper, and way more complex and delicious than any run of the mill deli provolone.
In spite of not wanting to be too “matchy matchy” with the wine pairing, I decided to go against the grain on this one. The wine is Shinn Estate Vineyards Pinot Blanc from the North Fork of Long Island. This is a very cool wine! It’s unique because it is fermented in open barrels. This open exposure allows the juice to oxidize slightly, taking on a nutty flavor similar to that of an oloroso sherry.
The body is rich and almost unctuous, just like the rich pasta. There is a touch of refreshing acidity to contrast the fat in the dish. But, rather than pair this dish with something full of tropical notes, like a big new world Chardonnay, thus adding flavor contrasts, we decided to go with something that has just as much savory flavor as the food. And here you have this beautiful, nutty, herbaceous Pinot Blanc.
There are subtle contrasting flavors in the food and the wine. But the primary flavors are all very savory. But what’s not to love about that? It’s a very “comfort food” approach to food and wine pairing. Savory flavors remind me of my mother’s cooking. Salisbury steak, meatloaf, buttered noodles, and lots of gravy; these are all delicious and all very straightforward in their savory flavors. The same idea works with this food and wine pairing.
The nutty, savory flavors in the wine give the flavors in the food an added kick of savory deliciousness. The complexity that comes from the combined food and wine is subtle. There are faint apricot flavors in the wine that are so subtle and delicate. These flavors are where the contrast and variation come into play. The fruit and juiciness in the wine add another dimension to the entire experience. The overall experience is death by savory. However, if that is to be my fate, then I will surely die happy and satiated.