Using a food and wine pairing in Evans, GA to demonstrate the versatility of Black-owned wine.
by Gerrard Roberts
Do you remember food from your childhood that you’ve vowed never to eat again? Maybe you are like Nate from the movie Crooklyn and will never eat black-eyed peas. Swearing off a particular wine varietal due to a poorly paired food experience in your adult life may have created the idea that Chardonnay is not your style. You might just have an allegiance to big, bold reds, a carefree bond with rosé, or enjoy the refined subtlety of white wine.
Well, my friend, you might be rubbing shoulders with unconscious food bias. There is a constant debate on whether food and wine pairings are justified or overrated. Some recommend pairing white wine with fish, red wine with beef, and sparkling wine with fried foods. Regardless of the debate on recommended pairings, wine does alter the flavor of food when paired together. So you just might be able to curb your bias towards a particular meal or grape when you intentionally consume them together. The best way to test this theory is through a tasting menu with curated wine pairings.
If you are ever in Evans, GA, stop by Cork and Flame, they offer winemaker dinners twice a month. Here’s a walk-through of how wine enhanced the flavors of a tasting menu presented by chef Justin Hayes. The menu featured wine pairings from Heitz Cellar and Sigma. We’ve taken the liberty to also include alternative recommendations for Black-owned wines with comparable tasting notes and complexities, including some from our own black-owned wine directory!
First, a crab cake and mussels served in sea shells.
This dynamic duo came with verbena and was infused with green apple, sea bean, and lemon. To mellow out this dish’s salty snap, the chef paired it with a Brendel Wine 2019 Chardonnay.
- Black Produced Wine Alternative: Kyle Burke, 2021 Chardonnay
- Tasting Notes: Pineapple, citrus, and vanilla.
Next on the rotation was a refreshing plate of blueberries, creme fraiche, caramelized onion, beets, and rose. This sweet and creamy dish was in need of some bitter smokiness and was paired with a Heitz Cellar 2017 Grignolino.
- Black Owned Wine Alternative: Theopolis Vineyard, 2018 Petite Sirah
- Tasting Notes: Blackberry, cola, and vanilla.
Next was a large helping of veal, which received significant assistance from the saffron, aged parmesan, risotto, carrots, and marrow toast. With many flavors competing for your attention, this medley was paired with a Heitz Cellar 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon. The tobacco and dark fruit notes helped to refocus the taste buds in one direction.
- Black Owned Wine Alternative: Corner 103, 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Tasting Notes: Oak, red fruit, and blackberry notes
Fourth, a mole matched with arepa, confit tomato, and chipotle came in heavy with flavor. This tangy and earthy meal was paired with a Heitz Cellar 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Black-Owned Wine Alternative: Brown Estate, 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon
- Tasting Notes: Black cherry, cedar, and pepper notes
Next up was venison with black garlic, barrel-aged ponzu, black sesame, and scallion salad. This Asian-infused plate was paired with a Sigma 2019 Red blend.
- Black-Owned Wine Alternative: Longevity Wine, 2016 Livermore Valley Mourvedre
- Tasting Notes: Strawberry, blackberry, and smoke.
Then, as if there wasn’t enough red meat, lamb was out next. This included ancho gastrique, kohlrabi, caramelized onion, and herbs de Provence. This sweet and savory pairing included a 2018 Sigma red blend.
- Black-Owned Wine Alternative: McBride Sisters, 2019 Red Blend
- Tasting Notes: Oak, raspberry, and plum.
Saving the best for last, a chocolate crepe with spiced cacao nib and dark fruit. This fig-forward dish was paired with a Sigma 2017 red blend.
- Black-Owned Wine Alternative: Bodkin, 2021 Zinfandel
- Tasting Notes: Strawberry, watermelon, and raspberry.
It’s important to acknowledge our food and wine preferences that provide us comfort or activate pleasant memories. However, the term “don’t knock it until you try it” can inspire you to give a particular food or wine a chance, how can you be sure you won’t like it? So break your unconscious food and wine bias and try something new; you never know what you find enjoyable.