Comfort Foods ... Meet Comfort Wines
Comfort food is defined as food that is satisfying because it is prepared in a simple or traditional way and reminds you of home, family or friends. Most of us can think of at least 10 dishes that fit the description but what we think of will vary considerably from person to person based on our cultural background and upbringing. Strewn Co-founder Joe Will's number one comfort food is toast with marmalade topped with a fried egg, a choice that dates from Joe's early days growing up on the farm in western Canada.
Rather than trying to match a specific comfort food to a specific wine – because there are typically multiple good matches –we've created five categories of popular comfort foods and recommended a wine style for each.
1. RICH AND CREAMY
Foods in this category include macaroni & cheese, linguini Alfredo, tuna noodle casserole, mashed and scalloped potatoes, mushroom soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.
Wine Pairing: Choose wine to either complement or contrast with the creamy, buttery, and sometimes salty notes of these recipes. Oak aged Chardonnay will complement, while a Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc can provide refreshing acidity to cut through the richness of the dish.
Suggested Strewn Wine Match: Chardonnay 2012 French Oak Barrel Fermented (availability winery & online store)
2. TOMATO BASED
These foods include tomato soup, chili con carne, spaghetti bolognese, meatloaf glazed with tomato sauce or ketchup and lasagna.
Wine Pairing: Select a wine to balance out the acidity of tomatoes (dishes with a hint of sugar make an easier match). Look for a fruity, medium bodied red, and try to avoid those with high alcohol or pronounced tannins.
Suggested Strewn Wine Match: TwoVines Cabernet Merlot 2014 (availability winery, online store & LCBO)
3. HEARTY BRAISES
This includes braised lamb shanks, Osso Buco, beef short ribs, pot roast, and brisket.
Braising is a combination-cooking method that uses both moist and dry heats: typically, the food is first seared at a high temperature, then finished in a covered pot at a lower temperature while sitting in some (variable) amount of liquid (which may also add flavour).
Wine Pairing: Rich, heavy dishes need a full-bodied red wine to balance strong flavours. These dishes often use wine in the cooking, and while you don't need to cook with your best wine, think about complementing the flavours with the wine you plan to serve. An earthy note works well with dishes containing mushrooms and bacon.
Suggested Strewn Wine Match: Rogue's Lot 2013 (availability winery, online store & LCBO)
4. CLASSIC ROASTS
Foods include roast chicken, turkey, prime rib, pork loin and rack of lamb.
Wine Pairing: There are a range of good wine matches, because the flavour differences between white meat, pink meat (pork) and red meat, along with the seasoning used, create a great variety of taste experiences. With chicken and turkey, select a wine that will not overwhelm the food. With red meat you'll need a wine that will stand up to the meat with enough body and intensity of flavour.
Suggested Strewn Wine Match for White Meat Roasts: Cottage Block Sauvignon Riesling 2014 (availability winery, online store & LCBO)
Suggested Strewn Wine Match for Red Meat Roasts: Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 "Winemaker's Art" (availability winery and online store)
Comfort desserts include apple pie, butterscotch, vanilla, chocolate and rice puddings, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake with ice cream, gingerbread and cheesecake. If this sounds appealing, you can download a copy of the Wine Country Cooking School's recipe for Gingerbread with Caramel Apple Filling >>.
Wine Pairing: The secret to pairing wine with dessert is to choose a wine that is at least as sweet as the food. Obviously Icewine and its more affordable cousin, Late Harvest, (made from the second pressing of the Icewine grapes) are a delicious end to the meal.
Suggested Strewn Wine Match: Select Late Harvest Vidal 2011 (availability winery, online store)