The SOMM Journal

April / May 2016

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Page 79 of 108

{ }  79 DISH 1: Pan-fried shrimp and vegetable gyoza. WINE 1: Valdespino Manzanilla Deliciosa "En Rama," 3 Year Old, Spain This Sherry is fresh, complex and highly aromatic with the richness of toasted bread and roasted almonds, along with a hint of salty sea air on the long, dry finish. "I like to do a Manzanilla as an aperitif, more so than fino, since it's softer and rounder," says Mendez. "En Rama, or all natural, means there's minimal fining and filtering so it's the truest product," she says. Here, the sherry accentuates the wonderful earthiness of the soy sauce and highlights the Gyoza filling. The dish elevates the wine while the wine brings out the wonderful unique fla - vors of the dish, the way a great food and wine pair ing should work. "The point of any food and wine pairing is to bring the dish together," Mendez feels, and the Manzanilla does the trick well. Where it fights with the spice in the second dish, the tuna roll, it melds seamlessly with these fried gyoza. THE RARE WINE COMPANY (AND OTHERS) DISH 2: Crispy tuna with avocado and tempura crunch. WINE 2: Canard-Duchêne Brut Champ- agne, Reims, France. A classic brut-style Champagne, this blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is crisp, delight - fully tangy and bright with citrus acidity. "It's bone dry and is both a beautiful food wine but also a fine apéritif," Mendez says. She brought this wine since the bright - ness and acidity par tner rather than fight with the spiciness common to Japanese cuisine (think wasabi, chilies). "Bubbles and the crunch," Mendez says, as we agree on our favorite casual combo: Champagne and potato chips. Likewise, the bright acidity and yeasty components set off the tempura crunch in the tuna dish, as well as the spiciness, and also brightens the creamy avocado. THIENOT USA DISH 3: Assorted nigiri sushi: tai-madai (sea bream), hamachi, tabiko caviar. WINE 3: Domaine Perrault-Jadaud 2012 "Les Grives Soules" Vouvray Sec, France. "Chenin Blanc doesn't get enough love," Mendez says as she pours this lovely Vouvray. The vast Loire Valley is often under-represented but Mendez adores the wines. This classic producer's off-dry wine has a textural component that inspired her pick. Wonderful aromas of honey, stone fruit, a subtle greenness and a hit of spicy ginger jump out of this glass, providing just the right lift for the simple nigiri pieces, accompanied by a bite of pickled ginger. The fish had a mild sweetness to it and the pickled ginger added dimension. The weight of the wine, along with the floral and spicy elements worked "super well with the clean lines of the raw fish and the zip of ginger," Mendez says. ROBERT HOUDE WINES, POTOMAC SELECTIONS, FREE RUN (AND OTHERS) Mendez's wine selections ranged from Champagne to Sherry.

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