Monday, 16 July 2012

The perfect wine with Lasagne

A few weeks ago, my bride made lasagne for the first time and it was brilliant!  Usually, I don't post pictures of her food as the link will take you to the photo, but I needed to this time as it was just brilliant!  Every time I look at it, I get hungry!

I mean, "how good is that?"  Of course, I still needed to decide what wine to drink with it.  A safe choice would have been Chianti, the light Italian wine made from the Sangiovese grape.  Another easy, choice could have been a Cabernet Sauvignon.  But I had a concern that with the richness I knew my bride was putting into the bechamel sauce in particular, that a Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon might be a bland choice and not stand up to the lasagne.  The lasagne was going to be heavy, meaty, spicy and deserving of a big wine to match, but not so big a wine as to overpower it.

I thought a Shiraz might be a decent, yet not perfect match, but a bold and potentially good choice.  Shiraz is often highly influenced by it's terroir, and I love some of the great Victorian Shiraz' for that reason.  However, I was concerned that a refined, delicate Shiraz would not be sufficient, and that some of the more robust aged Shiraz' could be overpowering.

When I started to think about the lasagne and reviewed my bride's recipe, I knew the lasagne was going to be very flavorful, have a lot of different tastes blended together with a bit of hot spice (we add chili to almost everything!), and have some crispiness in the baked pasta slices to give it a munchie and grittier texture to it.  But this would be interlaced with layers of a rich bechamel sauce also.  Therefore, I did not want a wine that was overly complex and mature, or one that was too elegant.  I needed a wine I could chew on!  One with lots of big tannins - but not completely integrated yet.  A wine that had great flavor with both fruity and spicy tastes.

As I thought through my cellar (yes, I am sufficiently aware of the contents and placement to be able to do that in my mind!), I eliminated wine after wine, and then settled onto the 2006 Seppelt's St Peters Shiraz.  Year-in, year-out, this is an amazing Shiraz, but the 2006 was particularly good.  The first time I tried it was at the end of ten days of heavy wine tasting and frankly my palate was destroyed.  I think I had the tannins of the last several days affixed to the inside of my cheeks and could not pick up on how beautiful a wine this was.  My lovely bride though insisted we buy some, but I only got six bottles.  However, a couple of months later and with a restored and workable palate, I tasted it again and realized what a truly unique and wonderful wine this was.  And as Treasury Wine Estates was trying to rationalize their inventory, I was able to pick up another 18 bottles at a really good price!

When eating the lasagne and drinking the wine, they provided a perfect combination in my mouth.  As I state at the end of my blog on "Wine with Risotto", a perfect match of food and wine is when both are fighting for primary attention, but neither wins.  And that is what we achieved with my bride's lasagna and the 2006 Seppelt's St Peter Shiraz.

I am so lucky to have a wife who loves to cook and provides me both the pleasure of her cooking and the pleasure of choosing wines to match.  Thank you and love you hon (and you too Seppelt)!

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