What We're Drinking with Fresh

Winter offers our tables an abundance of opulent flavors ranging from an array of rich root vegetables to vibrant and tasty winter greens. Recipes found in this issue will ignite your desire for meals that fill the kitchen with nostalgic aromas and whet the palate for beverages to match them.  

Zucchini “Zoodles” with Lemon Vinaigrette (page 21). This innovative dish calls for a beverage with enough acidity to stand up to the tart vinaigrette without overpowering the dish’s delicate flavors and textures. A white wine such as Fall Creek Vineyards’ Sauvignon Blanc 2015—made from 100-percent Texas-grown fruit from the mineral rich soil of Pecos County—makes a perfect pairing. It has a full, rounded mouthfeel to balance the concentrated flavors of the dried herbs, plus great zest and fruit characteristics to complement the dish. 

Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey, “Potlikker” and Maple Cornbread Dumplings (page 20). If ever there were a dish that begged for a rustic, farmhouse-style beverage, it’s this Southern-inspired, down-home creation. The very definition of a saison-style beer is a brew that’s rustic, brewed in farmhouse style with wild yeast-driven fruity notes. A good choice for this dish is Oddwood Ales’ Saison, which has garnered widespread praise even before the brewery’s East Austin/Manor Road facility has officially opened. On the nose, it’s mostly citrus-centric, white-wine aromas with a touch of farmhouse funk that ends with tannic notes. Oddwood’s brew imparts a woodsy taste that will work fabulously with the smoky notes of the turkey.  

Ropa Vieja (page 45). This national dish of Cuba—similar in many aspects to Texas’ beloved carne guisada—supports a variety of beverage pairings, but the options need to be as full-bodied as the variety of Spanish-inspired spices and ingredients. While wine has not been widely available in Cuba in many years, rum has been the beverage of choice. A classic rum cocktail, therefore, would be an appropriate pairing for this dish. To create one, fill a tall glass with ice, add the desired amount of Austin’s Treaty Oak rum, fill with equal parts of orange and pineapple juice, add a splash of lemon-lime soda and end with a dash of grenadine. Stir well and garnish with a lime twist. This dish also offers a nice opportunity for a wine pairing. Aglianico, a red grape of Italian origin, is gaining a foothold in Texas vineyards. It’s a varietal that does well in the Texas heat while maintaining a nice degree of acidity. One of the best is Perrisos Vineyard’s 2014 Aglianico. It’s a medium-bodied red that shows intense fruit and a crisp, acidic finish with nuances of spice and fine tannins to match the bold, spicy flavors of the dish.

Roasted Golden Beets, Carrots and Butternut Squash with Maple-Citrus Glaze (page 48). There are wonderful vegetable and citrus flavors going on in this dish, as well as a little shot of sweetness, so you wouldn’t want a beverage to overpower any of those great flavors. A traditional Southern sweet iced tea would be a terrific pairing to blend with—yet contrast—the nuances of the maple-citrus glaze. To make an excellent pitcher of Southern sweet tea, place 1½ tablespoons of Texas-grown Lost Pines Light Roast Yaupon Tea (the only natural caffeine source native to the U.S.) in a medium saucepan. Pour 1 quart of boiling water over the tea leaves. Cover and steep for about 10 minutes, then strain into 3-quart glass pitcher. Stir in 1 quart of ice cubes until melted, then stir in 1¼ cups of simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar, dissolved in a pan). Serve the tea over ice.

A Central-Texas Winter-Market Bento (page 29). Such a delightfully creative meal should be paired with a beverage of equally stellar quality based on the protein component: a roasted chicken. The side dishes are complementary to each other and to the roasted chicken, so a well-matched beverage will bring the meal together in nice harmony. Although the subject of chardonnay produced in Texas often elicits a firestorm of protest, chardonnay is an impeccable pairing for roast chicken. And in the last few years, some excellent chardonnays have been grown and produced in Texas. One is Compass Rose Cellars’ 2015 Texas Chardonnay, which would be a stunning match for this meal. The fruit was grown by Robert Clay Vineyards in a rare plot of Texas Hill Country chardonnay vines in Mason, Texas. The wine was barrel-aged for 13 months before its release in the fall of 2016. Coming in at 13.2-percent alcohol, the wine’s level of ripeness is a fine match for 100-percent new French oak, which rounded off and supported the green apple and ripe pear flavors, and gave a more substantial presence to the wine without burdening it with the overtly buttery characteristics found in many domestic chardonnays. The wine’s medium body will enhance the myriad flavors in this meal without overpowering it. 

By Terry Thompson-Anderson