Three months into my wine pairing column for The Register and I can tell the concept is catching on. Comments from friends and passers-by alike have been positive and complimentary. Thanks for reading.
While the column’s concept is catching on, maybe you’re new to my column and need an explanation. This is how it works: Ken Morris creates recipes around a weekly food theme. Find his recipes in the “Cooking for Comfort” column in Tuesday’s Food Section. Three days later, in The Register’s Friday Wine Section, I suggest wines to pair with Ken’s “Cooking for Comfort” recipes.
I make sure my recommendations are affordable ($15-$40 range) and easy to acquire. I practically hold your hand in instructing you how and where to buy the wine, be it a local winery, wine shop, or supermarket. If it’s a winery purchase, easy pickup or free delivery is mandatory.
These are the wines I suggest you pair with this week’s “Cooking For Comfort” recipes.
• Poseidon Chardonnay, Napa – Carneros 2017, $27 and Dominique Cornin Beaujolais Blanc 2017, $26, both at Back Room Wines with Simple Grilled Corn and Arroz a la Poblana
• Ancien Pinot Gris “Sangiacomo Vineyard” Carneros 2017, $33 at Vintner’s Collective with Chilled Coconut Corn Soup
• Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc, North Coast 2017, $28 at Back Room Wines with Beef Stir-Fry with Corn, Green Beans and Tomatoes.
Writing today’s Wine & Corn column brings my particular pleasure. I love corn, especially farm-fresh, lightly steamed with butter, and salt and pepper. The Dawson house style is foil-wrapped with butter, salt, pepper and basil leaves. We cook it on the grill, but the corn in fact steams inside the foil. It is so simple and tasty this way.
Ken’s dry-heat grilled corn recipe versus my steamed makes for an interesting twist on picking the best wine for each. In either case, my grape of choice, unequivocally, is Chardonnay. Corn’s milky-rich, sweet flavor and Chardonnay’s inherently creamy texture make for an ideal complementary pairing. While any quality Chardonnay will do well, allow me to break down the grilled, dry heat corn versus steamed corn wine pairing a wee bit.
Dominique Cornin Beaujolais Blanc 2017 ($26), a Chardonnay from Southern Burgundy, is perfect with steamed or foil-wrapped grilled corn.
Showing fresh citrus and orchard fruits, an earthy edge, and almost zero oak flavor, it’s perfect with lightly buttered, steamed corn. And isn’t it meant to be that a wine named Corn-in is good with corn?
Alternatively, look for a Chardonnay low in butter, medium/medium-high acidity, and no or very low oak with steamed corn. Ask your friendly wine merchant for such a Chardonnay if you’re not sure.
Similar but different, the Poseidon Chardonnay “Estate” Napa Valley – Carneros 2017 ($27) also tastes of lemon, pear, and peach yet with a little toasted almond and browned butter as well.
The toasty flavors from the grill and freshly grated Parmesan finish of Ken’s Simple Grilled Corn calls for a little of that classic California Chardonnay richness. But just a little, mind you, which is why the Poseidon is perfect to me.
Similarly, the Arroz a la Poblana, a rice pilaf spiked with roasted poblanos, corn, and onion, is nice with the Cornin Beaujolais, and even better with the complimentary toasty flavors of Poseidon.
The Dominique Cornin and Poseidon Chardonnays are in stock and ready for you at Back Room Wines in downtown Napa. You can also find Poseidon at their tasting room at Cornerstone Sonoma Marketplace on Highway 121 in the Carneros.
While the Chilled Coconut Corn Soup welcomes California Chardonnay with open arms, I feel like a wine with more exotic aromas to match the soup’s ginger, lime zest, and cilantro.
Napa’s stalwart Ancien Winery makes an aromatic, texture-ific Pinot Gris from Carneros fruit, and is just the wine here. Ancien Pinot Gris “Sangiacomo Vineyard” Carneros 2017 ($33), with its honeysuckle, tangerine, white pepper and green apple flavors and creamy mouthfeel is the soup’s equal in both taste and texture.
By the way, this is a wine I particularly like to have around the house since it’s mighty food-friendly. Tastes great by itself too. Buy Ancien Pinot Gris at Vintner’s Collective in downtown Napa or contact the winery at AncienWinery.com. Since Ancien has no free local pick-up or delivery option, Vintner’s Collective is probably the best option for you.
A light-body red wine with pepper and herb flavors is the ticket for the Beef Stir-Fry with Corn, Green Beans and Tomatoes. I suggest locally-made Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc, North Coast 2017 ($28).
The wine’s fresh violet, dark red plum, garden thyme, and raspberry flavors (very Cab Franc-ish) match nicely with the peppers, lemongrass, green beans…and of course corn.
A shift from the Ancien Pinot Gris in that the Lang & Reed needs food to flourish, and Ken’s beef stir-fry is just the thing. Find it at Back Room Wines in Napa, or buy the half bottles ($15.50 each) winery-direct at LangandReed.com and choose pickup in St Helena. Half bottles make the perfect weekday bottle for two.
That’s a foil wrap for me. Now I’m off to tend to my corn garden. There will be a lot of corn grilling and Chardonnay flowing at the Dawson house in July.
Find Ken Morris's Cooking for Comfort column on corn at bit.ly/3gTGiDA.