Grilled Romaine Salad with Fume’ Blanc and Pinot Noir

March 12, 2013
Saturday night’s dinner needed to be light after stuffing myself from the innovative menu at +Luna Bistro in the East Village the night before.  I used a recipe from the Hy-Vee Seasons magazine (a 2011 issue) for grilled romaine hearts topped with beets, mushrooms, and walnut-studded goat cheese rounds.  The dressing was basic vinaigrette with the unusual addition of cocoa.
It was a dish packed full of flavor!  Choosing a wine to pair was difficult!

I started with the Ferrari-Carano Fume’ Blanc, a Sauvignon Blanc so-named because the wine is partially fermented and aged in oak barrels.  This process adds a bit of complexity to the flavor and texture and allowed the wine to meld with the cocoa in the dressing.  Sauvignon Blanc’s acidity is always a good choice with an acidic salad dressing, and its crisp citrus flavors paired great with the fresh lettuce.  The Sauvignon Blanc’s acidity also makes it a good partner with tangy, creamy goat cheese.

Next I opened the Kenwood Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.  Earthy beets and mushrooms, walnuts too, are a safe bet for smoky, earthy Pinot Noir.  Even the seared lettuce was a complement to the smoky flavors in the wine.  Cooling ocean air in the Russian River Valley also helps to drive up the acidity in the grapes which allowed this wine to complement the vinegar-based salad dressing.  The tang of the goat cheese was questionable with the Pinot Noir but it seemed to improve once all the flavors blended together.

Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc 2011
Pear and tropical fruit aromas lead to crisp pear and pineapple flavors with a bright finish of lime and fresh acidity.

Kenwood Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2009
Smoky, spicy flavors along with notes of plum and dried cherry are present and finished with a dash of cinnamon.

About the author: Sue Navratil

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