Tuesday, August 21, 2012

MRE Menu 1: Chili with Beans, Cornbread, Jalapeño Cheese Spread

There is no shortage of capsaicin spice in this combination, particularly if the diner makes use of the accompanying red pepper packet.  This hearty, potentially fiery dish demands a wine of no small body to match.  In this case, a pleasing complementary choice might be a Primitivo di Manduria from the Salento region of Puglia in Italy’s heel.  The iron-rich clay soils over limestone give these wines fruit-forward plum notes on a background of spice and earth, but with enough tannic structure to handle the chili.

From the contrasting viewpoint, a white wine with a bit of residual sugar could counterbalance the heat.  A demi-sec chenin blanc from Montlouis-sur-Loire would fill the bill nicely.  Particularly with some bottle age, this should show a mixture of honey and floral notes together with golden apple and pear flavors.  The residual sugar will likely not be at the forefront thanks to balancing acidity around a core of minerality, continually refreshing the palate in the face of this spicy dish.

Complementary Pairing:  Primitivo di Manduria, Puglia, Italy
Try:  Morella Primitivo La Signora
[www.morellavini.it]  This single vineyard wine from vines averaging 55 years of age should offer an abundance of spicy notes to match this dish.

Contrasting Pairing:  Montlouis-sur-Loire demi-sec, Loire, France
Try:  Domaine de la Taille aux Loups Demi-Sec
[www.jackyblot.fr]  Jacky Blot’s rigorous fruit selection at all levels from his exceptional terroir ensure this will be a meal to remember, even if the main course is eminently forgettable.

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