Seasons of the Vine: July/August 2013


Taboo Teamings:
Food and Wine Pairings to Avoid

While food and wine pairing can be a highly subjective process, there are some principles which will help prevent an unpleasant combination. The acids, tannins and sugars in wine interact with the chemical properties in food, resulting in different taste sensations. So when choosing a wine consider the most expressive flavors of the dish—sweet, salty, sour (or acidic) or bitter—and follow the tips below.

Acidic: Highly acidic food often decreases awareness of sourness in wine, making a wine taste richer and mellower. An entrée low in acids can make an acidic wine taste more acidic or sour, but acidic wine paired with acidic food works well. Avoid pairing a dry Riesling (naturally acidic) with a cream-based pasta dish (low acid), but do pair Chianti (acidic) with red-sauce pasta (acidic).

Salty: Salty foods bring out the bitterness in tannins, so avoid heavily oaked or highly tannic cabernet sauvignons with ham or other salty dishes. Subtle sweetness in wine will tone down a salty entrée, so the palate cleansing nature of these wines works especially well. Try a semi-sweet Riesling with your ham.

Sweet: Sweetness in a dish increases awareness of bitterness and astringency in wine, making a wine seem drier, stronger and less fruity. Pair sweet foods with sweet wines. Slightly sweet dishes often need slightly sweet or off-dry wines. Avoid dry white wines and bold dry red wines with desserts.

Bitter: When bitterness in wine meets that in food (i.e., spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts) they do not cancel each other out; they merely combine. Avoid red wine with these flavors and consider a Sauvignon Blanc or New World* unoaked Chardonnay instead.

*New World refers to wines produced outside the traditional wine-growing areas of Europe—particularly the U.S., South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada.

Tricky Ingredients

Artichokes: These tend to “clash” with highly tannic red wines; choose a rosé or dry Sauvignon Blanc.

Asparagus: Avoid all reds (can create a metallic taste) and oaked wines; lighter whites or Rieslings are good choices.

Chili Peppers: Hot chili peppers clash with oaky white and tannic red wines. Go light with a Gamay-style or New World* Pinot Noir (or beer).

Chocolate: Varies widely in intensity and taste. Avoid white wine. Go with a full-bodied red wine or port.

Cream: Avoid dry red wines. Try a buttery Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Viognier or cold-climate Brianna.

Egg dishes: Avoid oaked wines. Lighter white wines, sparkling wines and even Champagne are good bets, or select a fruitier Chardonnay, Pinot Gris/Grigio or cold-climate La Crescent.

Smoked foods: Avoid highly-oaked or tannic wines. Smoked salmon loves Champagne, Riesling (especially an off-dry style) and beer.

Upcoming Events:

July 23, Olmsted County Fair Annual Homemade Wine Competition
Sponsored and run by The Purple Foot Winemakers Club of southern Minnesota, this event is open to all amateur winemakers. You need not be a member to enter. For more information, visit

Aug. 18, Great River Road Wine Trail Trolley Tour
Experience Mississippi River Valley Wine Country! We’ll visit Cannon River Winery, Alexis Bailly Vineyards and Falconer Vineyards. Enjoy wine tasting at each winery along with wood-fired pizza during our stop at Falconer and live jazz during our visit to Alexis Bailly. Advanced registrations required. For more information, visit or call 507-421-0573.

Mark your calendars for two great events at St. Croix Vineyards (in Stillwater, 90 miles north of Rochester) this summer!
July 13, St. Croix Vineyards Jazz Festival and August 10–11“Wine Meets Art Festival.” Admission is free to both. Visit for details.


News from Area Wineries:

Post Town Winery, Rochester, has expanded their food menu to include a variety of gourmet pizzas prepared in their new pizza oven. They continue to offer live music Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Visit

Whitewater Winery, Plainview, is also expanding their menu, adding sausage and cheese straws along with bottled sodas. In Spring 2013, two new semi-sweet to sweet red wines were released. Visit

Due to ongoing popularity, it is now necessary to book reservations weeks in advance for the food and wine pairing dinners offered on Thursdays at Four Daughters Winery, Spring Valley. Visit

Can’t drink wine, don’t like wine or drew short straw as the designated driver? Head for Salem Glen Winery, Rochester, where they offer a variety of loose leaf teas and tea items in addition to wine and related accessories. Visit