KFC Popcorn Chicken and Red Rooster

20180613_124539~2.jpgThe Food –¬†KFC popcorn chicken, $6.39

The Wine – 2014 Rielsing ice wine, $72 and/or 2016 Gewurztraminer $24

That’s right – for the first time ever I have a dual pairing. When I spoke to Burke at Red Rooster about my cheap food fine wine movement in March, he was overjoyed about the concept and the possibility of being paired. Ironically, about as overjoyed as I get when someone shows up with a bucket of popcorn chicken for me. In fact, Burke was so excited that he came in on his day off to be there for the pairing.

The tasting facilities at Red Rooster are exquisite. And I don’t mean in a ‘you must wear your finest silks and try not to dribble on them’ kind of exquisite. They have a sensory room upstairs that any Joe Blow off the street can book for a mere $20. This experience includes a guided food and wine tasting, as well as sample smells and aromas so you can finally figure out what us crazy winemakers are talking about when we say we smell ‘leather and lightly toasted oak’.

Red Rooster is really aiming to take the snob out of wine, something we can all get behind. I mean, Burke showed up in a shirt covered in miniature bananas. Definitely a man you want to spend an hour pairing fancy wines to popcorn chicken with.

Why it works

The icewine pairing was truly magical. This wine is so concentrated, sweet and viscous that it feels like a dipping sauce for the chicken in your mouth. You may think I’m crazy, but I know you won’t be disappointed if you’re brave enough to try it.

The Gewurztraminer is a more typical pairing – the exotic flavours work well with the chicken, but the wine has enough flavour not to get completely overwhelmed by the chicken. They compliment each other about as well as Netflix and PJs. And let’s be honest, that’s exactly how you’re going to enjoy this pairing.

When to pair it

When you’ve decided to screw going to Karen’s rooftop patio birthday party and you’ve settled into a night of greasy keyboards, the new season of RuPaul, and no ragrats (not even a single ladder).

 

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Deep Roots and a 711 Corn Dog

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The Wine – Deep Roots 2016 Chardonnay, $24

The Food – 711 Corn dog, 2 for $4

I try not to get biased, but this was probably my most enjoyable pairing experience I’ve had so far. The Hardman family runs, owns, and operates Deep Roots winery. They have been growing grapes in the Okanagan for several generations, so their roots in the community run deep (get it?….sorry I had to).

When I showed up to Deep Roots with a corn dog, owner Brian Hardman was both amused and perplexed. He loved the concept of the cheap food fine wine movement (who wouldn’t?) but he had never eaten a corn dog in his entire life. After his first bite, he proudly exclaimed that it would also be his last, as it was “The most disgusting thing he’d eaten in his entire life”. Clearly, Brian has not been drunk at a fair enough times to appreciate the glory of a good corn dog. But I digress.

After much debate, mostly just to see Brian eat more of the “evil” corn dog, we settled on pairing the corn dog with this Chardonnay. The wine has gorgeous notes of honeydew, melon, peach, pear, and floral notes. It’s off-dry (11 g/L RS) but still very refreshing.

Why it works

The off dry wine stands up really well to the sweetness of the corn bread coating on the hot dog. Corn dogs are greasy little buggers, and the acidity on the chard helps to cut that a bit.

When to pair it

When you’re at a theme park with your kids and you need to have a swig of “mommy’s” apple juice bottle.

 

Kailene Ramage, the only woman I wouldn’t trust to hold onto my stadium ‘apple juice’.

Onion Rings and La Frenz

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The Wine – La Frenz 2016 Viognier, $24

The Food – McCain Onion Rings, $5

La Frenz is a winery with a giant list of prestigious achievements – their view was chosen to be on the old $100 bill, their wines were selected for the Queen’s visit in 2005, not to mention that they’ve consistently won Winery of the Year for several years…..suffice to say that the ‘cheap food, fine wine’ movement was a novel concept to them. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly their staff, led by tasting room manager Shelly, embraced the concept.

La Frenz is also one of the only wineries on the Naramata Bench that offers a seated wine tasting to the general public. I highly recommend you visit the winery for this unique experience – grab a seat, and taste through the La Frenz portfolio at your leisure.

We chose their Viognier to pair with onion rings for a few reasons. What really got me excited was that 30% of the wine is made in concrete eggs, a new and unique method for making and aging wines. I was curious to see how this technique affected the Viognier flavours, and I was pleasantly surprised. The eggs gave the Viognier a rich, oily texture that complimented the other notes of orange, nutmeg, and turkish delight. The other 70% of the wine was made in stainless steel, with none of the juice seeing oak barrels. The bright orange flavours from the stainless steel ferment work really well with the creaminess of the concrete egg ferment.

Why it works

There’s a reason that onion rings and beer go so well – light palate, creaminess, and a slight sweetness. This wine has all those things, and more. The bright citrus nose and creamy mouthfeel work with the fattiness of the onion ring coating, while the residual sugar (9 g/L) helps to smooth out the acidity of the onion.

When to pair it

When you’re inviting your friends over for a hockey game, and you feel the need to butter up to them before you admit to them that you’re a Leaf’s fan.

Guest Taster

Lindsey Richardson, thrower of food, taster of wine, and creator of adventures.

Beef Jerky and Van Westen

 

The Wine – Van Westen 2013 V, $34.90

The Food – Teriaki beef jerkey, $5.29

Sometimes, all the stars align when you’re doing a pairing. Not only does the wine pair with the food, but in my opinion this food actually pairs with the winemaker. Anyone who knows Rob Van Westen will know that he’s a lovable, rough-around-the-edges character on the bench. He’s always there to give a helping hand (focus on the singular, since his other arm is usually broken, sprained, or otherwise injured), but he won’t hesitate to call you out on your mistakes either. His family has been in Naramata since the dawn of time, and their no-fuss approach to winemaking is something I’ve always appreciated.

All their wines begin with the letter ‘V’, presumably for Van Westen. This particular wine is just one letter¬† -V. Presumably, the ‘V’ in this case stands for the roman numeral for 5, since the wine contains all 5 Bordeaux varietals (45% Merlot, 28% Cab Franc, 14% Malbec, 7% Cab Sauv, and 6% Petit Verdot). This wine is bursting with tannin and structure, making it a dream for those looking for a full bodied red. It has beautiful notes of plum, cigar, sage, blackberry, and red pepper.

Why it works

To be honest, I don’t eat beef jerky, so I had to heavily rely on my guest taster and the tasting room staff for help here. The teriyaki beef is very savory, and works well with the huge berry flavour in the wine. The sweetness in the flavouring of the beef balances with the savory notes in the wine, while the proteins work in tandem with the tannins. Every aspect of flavour in the food has a reaction with the wine, creating a perfect pairing. Or so I’m told…

When to pair it

This screams ‘red wine at the beach’. You want a big, bold, luscious heavy red wine at the beach, and you need some protein to live up to the tannins. You don’t have the time, energy, backpack space, or budget for a steak, so some beef jerky is the perfect stand-in.

Township 7 and 711 Taquitos

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The Wine – Township 7 2016 Rose, $20.77

The Food – 711 Monterey Jack Chicken Taquitos, 2 for $4

Township 7 is one of the first wineries you’ll pass on the Naramata Bench, and if you’re looking for a good introduction to the world of wine, this is a fantastic place to stop. Their tasting room has a peekaboo view into their cellar, where you can see giant oak tanks that I will perpetually be jealous of. Their tasting room manager has a love of wine, and an even greater love of sharing his wealth of knowledge about wine. There is truly no question too stupid (or too complex) to ask in this tasting room.

The Rose that we chose to pair with the Taquitos is delightful. It’s a blend of Merlot, Malbec and Pinot Grigio, made mostly with direct-to-press juice, with a small amount of saignee. It is a refreshingly dry Rose, jam packed with strawberry and rhubarb notes.

Why it works

This wine really works with the ‘opposites attract’ theory of wine pairing. For one thing, Rose and cheese are always a perfect pairing. The fruitiness of the wine works with the slight spiciness of the taquito, and the hint of green from the jalepeno pairs with the strawberry in a way that truly surprised me. The combination is round, and smooth, and just generally a truly delicious pairing.

When to pair it

To me, this pairing screams ‘predrinking for girls night out’. I mean come on – Rose and girls nights are a match made in heaven. Plus, the grease from the taquitos will coat your stomach and liver for the punishment you’re about to inflict with all the tequila shots to come.

Guest Taster

Kailene Ramage, wine shop manager, and the perfect sidekick for a girl’s night out. Seriously, this woman is unstoppable.

Monster and Ravioli

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The Wine – Monster White Knuckle, $18.00

The Food – Buitoni cheese and tomato ravioli, $3.50

Monster winery embraces a level of sarcasm I can really get behind. From their cheeky wine names (like their sparkling wine named Brute) to the little beastly monsters literally carved into the building, they’ve really taken a theme and run with it.

The ambiance is great – low key but knowledgeable staff, keen to make sure you have an entertaining and enjoyable experience. This was the first winery I showed up to that was excited (as opposed to offended/skeptical) when I showed up with a platter of super cheap food to pair with their awesome wines.

The wine we chose was their White Knuckle blend, which is a blend of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Viognier and Muscat. It has beautiful notes of honeydew and grapefruit, with some citrus, pear and guava. What I really loved from a food pairing perspective was that there’s acidity up front to pair with the wine, with a creaminess on the finish to keep the flavours lingering. As an added bonus, this beauty of a wine also comes in a box.

Why it works

The ravioli was not as tomato-ey as I expected, it was much creamier. A dish heavy on tomatoes would not have worked with this wine. However, the creaminess of the pasta paired with the acidity on the front of the wine complement each other beautifully. The slight residual sugar (5.8 g/L) carries the minimal tomato taste beautifully.

When to pair it

When you’ve come home from a crappy day from work, and you have absolutely no intention of legitimately cooking but you need a full meal. Eating out isn’t an option, because a) you just spent your money on this delicious wine and b) you’re already home and there’s no way you’re putting pants on to go back outside.

Guest Taster

The beautiful and illustrious Lindsay Richardson, Celestial Overseer at Perseus Winery.

Bacon Wrapped Peaches and Serendipity

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The Wine – Serendipity 2016 Viognier, $25

The Food – Bacon wrapped peaches, $5

This week, I’m up at my cottage in Ontario. What better place to pair my go-to summer recipe with a wine that I made than in my happy place?

The bacon wrapped peaches are a ghetto gourmet version of prosciutto wrapped melon balls. They’re actually my cousin’s creation, and are best consumed warm, and in mass quantities.

The wine this week is one I’m particularly proud of. In a competition with more than 4,300 entries from 31 countries around the world, it took home a modest 97 points, double gold, and Best Viognier. Period. That’s right, this baby was considered by the San Francisco international wine competition to be the best in the world.

Why it works

Both of these items are amazing on their own, but when you combine them together, magic happens.

The peaches have their own balance of sweet and salty, soft and crispy going on. Likewise the Viognier has a beautiful balance of flavours going back and forth on your palate. What makes this pairing so wonderful is that the soft orange notes of the Viognier play with the peach flavour, while the saltiness of the bacon makes the finish on the Viognier last for days.

When to pair it

All day, every day. Seriously.

 

Guest tasters

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Back row – my dad and his wife

Front row – Marie Claire and George Heintzman, retired IBM engineer, and Ken Wilson, owner of no less than seven wineries in California

 

 

Recipe

It’s not often that I’ll suggest you roll up your sleeves and actually step in the kitchen beyond the microwave, but this dish is sooooo worth it

All you need are three things: bacon, peaches, and balsamic vinegar

Cook the bacon in the oven at 350 until it’s almost crispy

Drizzle peach slices in balsamic vinegar. Wrap in bacon. Return to oven until peaches are warm and squishy.

Eat in mass quantities