If you just want to read about wine, I’d suggest you skip ahead.
With the forecast calling for high temperatures plus insane humidity, and the calendar showing a whole weekend with no plans, the husband and I decided to pack up and take to the water. I had a secret errand to run in the morning: the husband’s birthday was the following week and I had ordered a book he wanted to the UPS store in Ogdensburg. This is what we do when we want something that is only available in the States and the cross-border shipping fees are more than the item itself. Sometimes it’s worth a trip to Ogdensburg.
I had done the grocery shopping for the weekend the night before, so I set off to the thriving metropolis of Ogdensburg and the husband was tasked with getting everything together for our weekend sailing trip. My mission went off without a hitch and I was back in good time so we could get to the boat. It always takes us a while to get ourselves and the boat ready for departure, plus we had to eat lunch at the club because I had been too lazy and otherwise occupied to make anything.
[You must be saying to yourself, Hey, I thought this blog was about wine! Ok, I’m getting there, I promise.] We had hoped to get away in good time, but after lunch, as we were making sure we had everything, I realized that we only had packed trout for dinner. Perhaps not the most balanced meal. After pointing fingers and trying to place the blame with the other person, we decided to both take partial responsibility and do a quick trip to Farm Boy. There we picked up a quinoa salad and a greek dill salad to go with the trout. Crisis averted.
To go with the trout, I brought along a Toasted Head Chardonnay that I had picked up on sale a few weeks before.
MY PAIRING THEORY
Basically, if something is going to go on the barbecue, I am generally looking for something oaky to go with the smokey flavours from the grill. So if we’re having steak, I’ll go with a red that is heavy on the oak. Lately that means, any red from California, where they seem to barrel-age everything. Since we were having fish, I decided to apply this same logic to a white, therefore: an oaky, more heavy-bodied white from California.
The trout off the grill (in foil with olive oil, butter, salt and pepper, for those who are curious) was simple yet delicious, and the chardonnay went pretty well with it, though in hindsight the wine was maybe too much for the subtle flavours of the trout. The light S&P seasoning allowed the flavour of the fish to shine, and next time I may go with a lighter-bodied wine for a more delicate balance.
BUT when paired with the greek dill salad, WOW. Fresh dill is quite a powerhouse of flavour in the herb world, and boy is the Toasted Head a great match for it. It took me a while to figure out why this was. Obviously, powerful flavours in food need powerful wines to stand up to them. But it was more than that. It was not just a question of the wine’s body, but also of its flavours, specifically the oak component. When a wine is barrel-aged, the oak certainly lends a specific flavour profile to a wine. This can include vanilla, butterscotch, caramel, toast, smoke and butter. Some even argue that dill is an oak flavour component, and after tasting the dill–oaky chardonnay combo, I would have to agree! It was a match made in heaven.
OAKED WHITES: LOVE ‘EM OR HATE ‘EM
Now, oak in a white wine is an acquired taste. Generally, you either love it or hate it. When I first started my wine classes, I was definitely not a fan. But the more I tasted it, the more I grew to love it. What are your feelings on chardonnay? Are you a lover or a hater? I challenge you to try a chardonnay in the next little while. If you’re not a fan of the oaked version, try an unoaked chardonnay. I recommend Kim Crawford’s Unoaked Chardonnay as a gentle transition.
If you’re looking for a nice chard under $15, I also recently tried the staff pick at my local LCBO and was quite pleased with my purchase. Lots of citrus and stone fruit (peaches and apricots). Un chardonnay typique, quoi!
P.s. I apologize for the lack of my own pictures in this post. We were so hungry we forgot to take pictures of the delicious trout! Rookie blogger mistake that will be remedied next time!