Last night I was invited to a share a traditional Brazilian meal with friends. Feijoada is a bean-and-meat dish stewed for hours to create a harmonious blend of flavors. Using black beans, bacon, sausage, ribs, pork loin and onions (just to name a few), the dish is then topped with pico de gallo, collard greens and oranges.
Not only does the dish have every meat possible, which can make wine pairing hard enough, the citrusy-sweet oranges really threw me off when picking the perfect wine. I chose an old-vine Spanish blend from Montsant knowing its earthy undertones would match the rich flavors of the stew well and hoping its slight acidity would compare to the lightness brought by the pico de gallo and oranges.
As friends assembled, we started piling our plates high and filling our glasses. A chardonnay was suggested, but definitely too light to stand up to the smoky beans. The bold Napa Cabernet Franc had too much bell pepper and dark berry notes, making the wine seem sweet and the stew seem rough when paired together.
My Spanish was tried and worked, but still wasn’t great.
Finally we tasted a Chianti Classico, 100% Sangiovese, a medium bodied wine with rich dried cherry notes and earthy tones. This was the one! This was the “Aha” moment!
The smoky thick flavors of the stew were made even tastier by the earthy notes of the wine. The dry cherry undertones stood up to the citrus making it seem sweet instead of sour. After a few more tastes, we knew we had the right one. Wine and food pairing can be difficult. It’s not easy finding the perfect match but it certainly is fun. When planning your next meal, think of what you know and like. Ask friends for advice and consult with the wine specialist at a store. Don’t be afraid to try a few in the search for the perfect pairing.