Perfect Pairings: The Takeout Edition

Klaire McCallum

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As the so called “seasons” turn, the appeal of staying cozy indoors increases. Takeout dining after a long week of work can start to really hit the spot. Here at Vine Arts we get asked for pairing suggestions, especially for takeout cuisine such as Chinese food, Thai food, or Pizza, almost daily. These queries are a lot of fun because according to the rules of pairing, there are classic match-ups we can suggest, but we are also given the opportunity to find some fun pairings that might be a little off the beaten path.

Some of the characteristics inherent to many takeout dishes, such as spice and umami flavours, can be a little tricky to pair, because the wine will either amplify certain traits in food (eg. alcohol makes spicy things spicier) or food characteristics can make wines taste less pleasant than they might alone (eg. umami can make tannins in wine taste bitter and astringent). For this reason, sweeter, white wines are often suggested as pairings with a broad spectrum of Americanized Asian takeout options. Something like pizza is a little more versatile, so offers a great opportunity to try something a little out of your comfort zone. While I don’t suggest you forgo giving off-dry Riesling paired with lemon chicken or Gewurztraminer with a curry a try, it doesn’t mean you’re limited to wines a) you don’t particularly enjoy or b) following the rules. Finding the right pairing is as much about what you like to drink as it is about matching up specific traits in food and wine.

The following three wine and takeout food pairings, to me, are perfect because not only do the dishes suit the flavours in the wine, but I also love the wines in themselves.

Thai Green Curry & Yves Cuilleron Roussanne Les Vignes d’à Côté - $33

I have long loved this wine, but was recently reminded of just how darn tasty and complex it is. Yves Cuilleron’s Roussanne has the perfect balance of textural richness and heightened aromatics. With a luxuriously oily quality, it still retains enough acidity not to feel cloying on the palate. This Roussanne is chock full of perfumed floral aromas like orange blossom and honeysuckle, spicy white pepper and cinnamon, as well as fleshy white peach and apricot. It is rich enough to play well with cool weather and pairs splendidly with something highly aromatic and a bit spicy like Thai Green Curry. With pretty flavours, like lemongrass and coconut, chili heat, and a hearty, creamy texture, Thai Green Curry will match the aromatics of the wine and the whole experience will be a beautifully fragrant, decadent indulgence.   

Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza & Rinaldini R’osé Lambrusco Dell’Emilia - $ 28.50

You may have heard recently of Lambrusco. This Italian sparkling red wine is a style of wine we regularly carry and one that has been gaining quite following over the past few years. Lambrusco used to have a bit of a bad reputation, but we are getting our hands on more and more great examples all the time. Paola Rinaldini helms her family’s winery in Emilia Romagna. They make high quality Lambrusco, using ancient methods and grapes. Rather than being dark red, like the name “Lambrusco” often implies, this wine is made in a rosé style. This wine as all the bright, fruity aromatics of cherry pie and raspberry lemonade. Flavours of cranberry, a fruit I always associate with savoury dishes, carries firm tartness which make every sip a refreshment.  Lambrusco, deep red or rosé, is wonderful pairing with red sauce pizza because it has enough acidity to match the acidity of the tomato sauce and has an inherently rustic quality that seems a natural match for the umami of parmesan cheese and prosciutto. Often the best food and wine pairings share the same home. Classics are classics for a reason.

Ginger Beef & Vins i Llegendes DOQ Priorat - $33.50

Celler Ronadelles was established in 2002. They work in both Monsant and Priorat in North East Spain, making intense and terroir-driven wines. Priorat is renowned for wines of deep character and concentration. This dark and chewy blend of Grenache and Carignan is inky in its intensity, but given time, opens up to be lush, with flavours of sweet red and purple fruits. Ginger Beef (invented right here in Calgary in the 1970s) is an odd combination of sweet, savoury, crispy, and chewy, that just works. Silky in texture, and full of dense fruit, this wine’s tannic structure will play well with the beef and fat, but the ripe fruit flavours will pair up with the dish’s sticky sweet sauce. With this these descriptors in mind, I think you should give Celler Ronadelles’ Vins i Llegendes Priorat a go. Sometimes you just gotta go big!