Food and Wine Pairing Tips with a Sparkle of Disney Magic

I’m freshly back from a business and pleasure trip to Florida. Today I’m sharing wine and food pairing tips that The Zin Diva and guests discussed at a private wine and cheese tasting party held in Florida last week. Also, check out the best wine deal in Disney World in the photo, below! This delicious sparkling wine from Iron Horse Vineyards is the ONLY beverage I found at the Disney World Resorts that sells for retail price ($35). On to the wine and food pairing tips…

Tip 1. Choose a wine that is sweeter than your food. Sweet food can make a dry wine seem flat and acidic. Ideas: Chocolate and port wine; sauteed pork chops, pears, & onions and an off-dry Vouvray; sushi rolls with a sweet sauce drizzled over the top with an off-dry German Riesling.

Tip 2. Spicy foods go better with sweeter wines. Let’s take that sushi roll and have a sweet & spicy drizzled sauces on top; it could still pair with the off-dry German Riesling!

Brut Sparkling Wine: Low Sugar, Higher Acid, No Tannin

The Iron Horse Vineyards FairyTale Celebration Cuvee 2008 is made specifically for the Disney World and Disneyland resorts. This brut sparkling wine is from the relatively cool Green Valley in Russian River Valley in CA. I tasted green apple, lemon zest, yellow cherry, brioche, and cream.
This wine is relatively high in acid and low in sugar with no tannin or oak aging. Since it’s a higher acid wine, it should pair well with many different foods. Because it has no oak, it can pair with fish and seafood. It’s relatively low in sugar, so we should avoid sweeter foods like chocolate or French toast and spicy foods like a spicy tuna roll.

Tip 3. If you are having fish or seafood, choose a wine with low tannin levels that is unoaked. Tannins + Fish/Seafood = Metallic taste. For example, unoaked Chardonnay may taste fabulous with your crab while oaked Chardonnay leaves a bitter metallic taste in your mouth.

Tip 4. Higher acid wines (think zippy, tangy, racy) pair well with foods esp. seafood, like the effect of squeezing a lemon over your food. Higher acid wines tend to be from cooler climates like Germany, Austria, France, Northern Italy, Northern Spain, and New Zealand.

Tip 5. If your wine has higher tannin levels (makes your tongue dry), pair it with a protein like steak or cheese. The protein will bind with the tannin and make the wine smoother.

Dry vs. Off-Dry: For still wines, a “dry” wine means little to no residual sugar, i.e., no perception of sweetness on the palate. An “off-dry” wine means a bit more residual sugar, so a little sweet to the palate and often sweet enough for those moderately spicy foods or dishes with a sweet ingredient like apples.

Brut vs. Extra-Dry vs. Dry: For sparkling wines, a “brut” bubbly means relatively little residual sugar, i.e., no (or very little) perception of sweetness. An “extra-dry” bubbly means a bit more residual sugar, so it’s a little sweet to the palate. A “dry” bubbly is sweeter yet.

Have a fabulous weekend, and enjoy your wine and food pairing adventures!

Celebrating Four Years of Joy!

The Zin DIva Presents a Bottle of Joy

Joy! What comes to mind? Celebrations, dancing, levity, friends, family, food, wine, Champagne (or your sparkling wine of choice!)…

In this case, Joy! was all those things and more. I popped the cork on a magnum bottle of Iron Horse Vineyards Joy!, a late-disgorged sparkling wine that had aged on the lees (dead yeast cells) for 15 years before bottling.

The occasion? In the company of close friends enjoying a dinner of Christmas leftovers, we toasted to the four joyous years since I moved to Norfolk and met so many fabulous friends.

I had purchased the bottle of Joy! at the Iron Horse vineyard, winery, and tasting room in Green Valley in Russian River Valley in California, knowing that it would be for a special occasion. The tasting “room” at Iron Horse is actually an outdoor tasting bar where people mingle with friends and strangers alike, heat lamps at the ready for when the fog rolls in as it does daily, and Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines just yards away on the hillside.

Closer to home, I carefully opened and poured the Joy!, working to use the proper service techniques I’ve learned in my sommelier classes—serve the ladies first, then the gentlemen, then the host; ensure the label faces the guest when pouring; fill the glass 2/3 full; pour slowly so the bubbles stay in the wine; and you get the idea. We toasted to four years of joy and friendships.

When I tasted the bubbly, it was everything I had remembered at Iron Horse and much more: toasted almonds and hazelnuts, the yeasty smell of just baked bread, lemon zest, cream, green apple with peel, and the descriptors could just go on and on. (If I had taken notes during my celebration, I could tell you many more!) So here’s to a joyous new year! Now toast to it with some bubbly!