About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Food & Wine Pairing

If you Google “food and wine pairing”, you will get 2,3000,000 hits that include charts, guides, articles etc.  All can be very helpful.  And, while I do think there are certain wine types and foods that pair magically, such as a bright, minerally Muscadet with fresh Oysters, I have always been of the opinion that great food and great wine always go together, be it white wine with meat or red wine with fish. My opinion was reinforced this past Friday when Carol and I dined with good friends Maria and Enzo at our favorite Asian/Sushi restaurant, Wabi Sabi in Bloomfield, NJ.  Chef/owner Nelson Yip is one of the finest Asian/French fusion chef’s I have ever encountered.  The secrets to his success are quite simple; great mentors in both French and Asian cuisine, a fanaticism for fresh ingredients and an unbridled passion for transforming ingredients into simple and at the same time spectacular dishes. He is so fanatical about the quality of his sushi, that he receives 3 shipments of fresh fish from Japan weekly.  There simply is no comparison to the quality and freshness of his sushi and sashimi to most other Japanese restaurants in the area...at least in my opinion.  I would be remiss if I did not mention that the service here is equal to the food.  Alice and company will see to all your needs with a smile and efficiency.

I usually like to drink a dry Riesling with Asian food, but this time I decided to go red and chose instead a bottle of 2005 Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge Réservé.  It had been a while, 7 years in fact, since my last bottle of the ’05.  The ’05 vintage is, in my opinion, one of the greatest wines to come from the estate and not far behind their legendary 1995 and 1990 vintages. I opened the wine 2 hours before taking it to the restaurant to give it time to breath and open up. It exhibited a gorgeous translucent red hue and beautiful bouquet of fruit and spice.  The full-bodied palate showed superbly pure and balanced fruit and echoed the spice of the bouquet.  It finished with a lengthy and velvety elegance that is a trademark of Rayas.  Simply put it was a round and delicious bottle with lots of soul that will drink well for a couple more decades.

As for the pairing with the food, what can I say but wow.  Each bite of food, followed by a sip of the wine was sublime.

"Lollypop" Shrimp.  Nelson fashions a large wild shrimp into a circle, adds a bit of crab meat to the center and then encrusts it with Panko bread crumbs, skewers each one with stick and then fries them.  The resulting "lollypop" is crunchy and greaseless and served with a lightly spiced dipping sauce made from chilis, tomatoes, onions and parsley.  OMG, it is amazing and has to be tasted to be appreciated.

Himachi with truffle sauce.  Pristinely fresh Yellowtail is topped with a delicate black truffle sauce.  His judicious use of the truffle does not overpower the fish, rather it compliments it beautifully.

Berkshire Pork Goyoza.  Nelson takes the pan-fried dumpling to new heights in this preparation. The incredibly light dumpling wrappers are made in house and stuffed with a minced pork stuffing made from wild boar.  Lightly pan-fried, they are delicious and a far cry from the thick and doughy versions found at most other spots.  I never asked what he makes the dipping sauce with, but it is the perfect foil for these heavenly pillows of pleasure.

Sushi Sandwich.  For this amazing dish, Nelson stacks a homemade rice cracker with smoked salmon, fresh crab and fried leeks.  He then tops all with a spicy mayonaise sauce . The combination of flavors and textures will have you clamoring for more.

Unagi Don.  Unagi is Japanese for eel.  As a lover of eel, I have had this dish many times, but again Nelson's preparation is far and away the best I have ever tasted.  While I have never asked him how he makes it, I believe he glazes fresh eel with a sauce (miso?) and serves it atop a bowl of sushi rice.  The textures and flavors explode in your mouth.

If you live nearby, grab a great bottle of wine and head over there, you will be very, very happy you did.