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A Perfect Compliment: Food and Wine Pairings

Fine dining is more than just having a delicious meal at a sophisticated establishment. Fine dining involves an exquisite food selection paired with the right wine. The right wine truly embodies the full meal, bringing out the full flavors of the food, and when done appropriately, creates an experience not just a sensation of pleasure for the palate.

But which wine is appropriate for your favorite food selection?

Beef Lovers: Before you choose which fine wine to sip with your meal, decide the cut and level of doneness of the steak. The fat in steak softens the tannins in wine. For those who crave rib eyes, New York strip, or skirt steaks, a brawny wine such as our Carol Shelton Wild Thing Zinfandel will best pair with the fatter piece of meat. For a leaner cut of steak such as our Filet Mignons or certain cuts of sirloin, the best choice of wine would be something with a bit less tannin such as our Carmel Road Pinot Noir, Patz & Hall Pinot Noir, or our Williamette Valley Founder’s Reserve Pinot Noir. Also consider the length of time you prefer your steak to be done. A well-done steak pairs well with a juicy wine such as our Skyfall Cabernet Sauvignon, Hess Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, or our Jason Stephens Cabernet Sauvignon, while a medium-rare steak pairs better with an aged or earthier wine such as our Rock Wall Petit Sirah.

Pork: Pork such as our famous Don’s Pork Chop and Smoked Berkshire Pork Loin is a versatile meat that can be paired well with acidic white or red wine. For pork that is cooked in a delicious cream sauce, a perfect pairing might be our Fess Parker Chardonnay, Testarossa Chardonnay, Storrs Chardonnay or a spicy Gewürztraminer. When pork is paired with side dishes such as mushrooms or potatoes with bacon, a great choice would be a light Zinfandel or Grenache-based wine. Other amazing wine choices might be our fruity Frog’s Leap Merlot or our Cinnabar Merlot, full-bodied buttery Fess Parker Chardonnay, or a jammy Carol Shelton Wild Thing Zinfandel.

Seafood: When it comes to fish, a perfect wine selection depends on a number of factors such as the weight and substance of the fish and how the fish is prepared. Raw or shell fish such as our Oysters on the Half Shell, Salmon Gravlax, Seared Ahi Sashimi, and Shellfish Platter pair nicely with a delicate white wine or a sparkling wine such as our Domain Chandon Blanc de Noir, Gruet Brut Rose, or Roederer Estate Brut to match their delicate nature and balance. Fish that is broiled, grilled, and free from sauces also tastes delicious with white wines with the exception of unsauced salmon that pairs delectably well with our three Pinot Noirs: Williamette Valley Founder’s, Carmel Road, and Patz & Hall. Fish such as Birk’s Spiced Stuffed Trout that is cooked in butter-based sauce is pleasing with a white Burgundy, or spicy sauces are enticingly tempting when served with a sweet wine. Dark fish with an oily texture pair equally well with white or red, but if served in a mushroom sauce, red is suggested while white wine is suggested if cooked with lemons and capers.

Foul: White wine connoisseurs will fancy a tasty glass of Martella Sauvignon Blanc with Mary’s Free Range Chicken or Tandoori Chicken, while dark meats such as duck and similar game pair well with darker wines such as Birk’s Pinot Noirs or Carol Shelton Wild Thing Zinfandel. However, equally important to the color of the skin are the accompaniments that go along with the poultry as well as the sauces. Serve a white wine such as Martella Sauvignon Blanc or Fess Parker Chardonnay with spring vegetables and woodsy wines with mushrooms. Offset spicy sauces with sweet wines such as Riesling or Gewürztraminer for an excellent combination.

Lamb: In general, lamb, a red meat, pairs well with red wines. However, it is important to take into account the type of cut of lamb and what it will be served with in order to discern the most perfect pairing of red wine. White wine does not have to fully be eliminated from the lamb dish. A heavy meal such as a lamb roast will pair nicely with white wine. Birk’s Citrus marinated Colorado Lamb Chop and our Beef and Lamb Gyro pair pleasingly well with our Skyfall Cabernet Sauvignon or our Rock Wall Petit Sirah.

Just as every person has discriminating tastes, there is no right or incorrect way to pair wine with food. These are just some suggestions that are notably agreed to based upon the type and cut of meat or fish. As with any meal, choosing what is pleasing to your palate makes the best pairing. At Birk’s Restaurant in Santa Clara, our staff is well-versed in creating the perfect complement to your meal. Ask any one of us for our feedback, and we’d like to hear yours as well! Happy pairing!

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