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Blog: Piquant Pizza and Wine-Icewine

Posted: Friday, 17 July 2015 10:42

Blog: Piquant Pizza and Wine-Icewine

July 17: Wine snobs would laugh, even I won’t waste a good bottle of icewine with a plebeian pizza but in an interesting situation, I tried the leftover of a chilled Cabernet Franc Rose icewine with a home-made piquant chorizo pizza with sprinkled red chilli flakes and the combination was really swaad (delicious) on the palate, validating my belief that wines should be matched with food but one should also be experimental and keep in mind individual tastes

Click For Large ViewAs a preamble, I presume that a few of our readers may not know what icewine is. 25 years ago I didn’t know either, till I was invited to an upscale American restaurant where the $125 half- bottle icewine was ordered with dessert, as a special gesture-and it was love at first sight. It is not a wine to be consumed with ice cubes like the Ice- Champagne from Moet Hennessey. It’s a sweet wine made from grapes like Riesling, Vidal, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, kept on the vines till the temperature goes down to -7˚ C (in Canada it is a degree lower, at 8 ˚C below the freezing point) and which are frozen when harvested or fermented.  Canada, Germany and Austria are leading producers with USA following the same rules. A few other countries in Europe like Czech, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Denmark also produce small quantities. China also claims to produce it -but most make icebox wines-by chilling grapes in the freezer and then fermenting, which is not the real thing.

When served with desserts like gateaux or by itself, icewine is a delicious and swaad (very engaging, soul- touching) dessert. I imagine that the Amrut that came out in the mythological samudra manthan between Gods and demons, was metaphorically speaking, icewine. Although there are documents of its being produced in the eighteenth century, the real McCoy came into the market in good quantities around 1961 in Germany and 1984 in Canada. Relatively new on the wine scene, icewine has captured many hearts and palates at a breakneck speed, the high costs and the consequent prices notwithstanding, because of its tropical flavours and refreshing crisp acidity.

I won’t dream of ‘wasting’ icewine on a pizza normally. But when some was leftover in the bottle opened at an exclusive wine dinner, I ventured to bring it home and lay it in the fridge (not the cellar as I believe the open bottle lasts longer at colder temperature). When my wife made a chorizo pizza at home a few days later, I decided to try it with the leftover icewine which was still in very good condition (open bottle of icewine can last 2-3 weeks in a bottle if stored in fridge/freezer). With Chorizo bites in the mouth, the Rosé was satisfactory because of the soft tannins. But I introduced another element-a splash of red chillies that lift the flavours for many of us, though unheard of and scoffed at in Italy.

Pizza goes well with various quaffable, no-brainer wines with higher acidity to cut into the fat in the cheese and which are able to handle the acidity of tomato paste. Red meats like ham, pepperoni, sausages and chorizo on the pizza make them tastier with red wines like Valpolicella, Chianti, Nero d’Avola and a host of other Italian wines like Primitivo in Puglia, Dolcetto in Piemonte, Lambrusco in Emilia Romagna and Rosso di Montalcino or Rosso di Montepulciano in Tuscany. (My due apologies to the beer guzzlers who find it makes the best match, or teetotaller friends who love it with coke as I did when I was a teetotaller and didn’t know any better).

The red chillies spiked up the heat which was well balanced by the fresh sweetness of the wine. Icewine has around 180-350 gms/liter of residual sugar-this one had perhaps about 220-230. The crisp acidity made it dance to the tune of the pizza and the chorizo loved the hint of tannins in the Cabernet Franc. Before, I could say ‘hot Chorizo’, the wine was finished.

I was tempted to open another bottle but I realised that I had another half bottle of Vin Santo 1998 cooling its heels, which by itself was full of zest and higher sugar. Unfortunately, the acidity was lower and I had to labour hard to finish off what I had in the little glass holding about 30 mL-the standard pour I would recommend to be served with gulab jamun or sondesh. Late Harvest Chenin Blanc from Sula, Santo from Fratelli or Moscato Late Harvest from Mercury Winery would be much cheaper and better options. I would have loved to have the same pizza with the same amount of red peppers sprinkled on top with these different wines to find out the best match-but that would be another time.

The simple point I am making here is that the food and wine pairing is very important. But just like in wines, one must not get stuck in the classic groove and should be willing to experiment and decide what is good for your taste buds. Some like it hot-others like it sweet. Saltiness is another aspect that tickles peoples' palates differently. Go by your taste buds and go with an open mind. There is a lot more than a grilled fish with Sauvignon Blanc or a steak with cabernet sauvignon...

... or a pepperoni or Chorizo pizza with Chianti, Primitivo or Valpolicella.

Subhash Arora

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Tags: swaad, icewine



Sridhar Pongur Says:

Thanks for the lovely article on the late harvest wines and the food pairing with spicy food. Very interesting suggest and I would like to try this with our Bellissima. Thanks once again,Warm regards, Sridhar Pongur

Posted @ July 18, 2015 11:02


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