Nothing beats the simple indulgence of comfort foods.
They can take many forms, from the quick-fix bowl of ice cream to the complex dishes rooted in our cultural heritage that anchored our childhoods. These hot off the stove, multiple-ingredient dishes with their distinct aromas have the power to spirit us away to a different — perhaps simpler — place and time. So what could be better? I would argue that the addition of the right wine can only add to the sense of warmth and contentment that comfort food can bring, and will help take the experience of your favorite dish over the top!
Hearty Comfort Foods: Pot Roast, Beef Stew or Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes
It’s ironic that “meat and potatoes” has come to mean basic and unpretentious, because this classic duo is actually the most versatile when it comes to pairing options. To simply enhance the rustic earthiness of beef stew or a pot roast with roasted vegetables, choose a Merlot or a Chardonnay aged in oak. If your dish is well peppered or you’re looking for a little kick, select a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Rioja or Malbec. And if you’re into bold flavors that will warm you up with the first sip (especially if you like your meatloaf spicy or doused in ketchup!), a high alcohol Red Zinfandel is just the ticket.
Chicken Comfort Foods: Roasted Chicken or Chicken Pot Pie
Few meals are more satisfying than a simple roasted chicken or a classic chicken pot pie. Whether you’re craving red or white, your selection should be light and fruity. Beaujolais, Pinot Noir and Grenache are great red wine options, while whites include French Rhone blends, dry Rieslings or Viognier. If you can’t decide between a red and a white, select a dry Rosé — my personal favorite for the delectable flavors in roasted chicken.
The Ultimate: Mac and Cheese or Grilled Cheese
For the cheese lovers out there, nothing melts the heart quite like warm cheese. And for wine lovers, there is no better companion! Together, they equal 100% comfort and joy. A simple grilled (American) cheese sandwich calls for a Chardonnay. If you’re dunking in tomato soup, try a low tannin red wine such as a Gamay or Grenache. If it’s Mac and Cheese you’ve been dreaming of, a high acid wine will cut through the richness, with Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc or a Spanish Albarino all great options.
Finally, let’s discuss the bacon factor, which changes the entire equation! If bacon finds its way into one of the above dishes (no judgment here), then sweetness and/or bubbles are in order. In that case, an off-dry Riesling or a slightly sweet sparkling wine, such as Italian Prosecco, will hit all the right notes. Here’s hoping that this winter will provide some wonderful opportunities to gather around your favorite dishes and enjoy them with the perfect wines!
By Georgene Mortimer, Island Winery
The perfect bottle of hand-crafted artisan wine awaits at Island Winery on Cardinal Rd. Wine by the glass, cheese platters and tastings are available Mon.-Sat. from 12:30-5:30 p.m. and Sun. from 12-4 p.m. (843) 842-3141 or www.islandwinery.com.