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Rhone-ing in the New Year

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While everyone is pretty acquainted with the Wine Pairing 101 matches of “beef with red, chicken with white.” Usually this means a Cabernet for the red wine—a big red wine to match an equally big meal. So with a New Year resolution of alighting my adventurous spirit, I felt compelled to explore another match outside of the traditional curriculum.

I hosted a New Year dinner of rosemary crusted beef tenderloin with roasted potatoes, a simple supper that was a perfect, hearty menu for a cold, bright January night. I decided to try a wine from the Cotes du Rhone instead of the usual Cabernet or Bordeaux (a Cabernet blend). Rhone wines, from Southern France, are traditionally a blend of Syrah and regional grapes Marsanne and Roussaneand subscribing to the French tradition of blending grapes best suited to the terroir of the region. (Bordeaux is a combination of Cabernet and Merlot and other grapes.)

The New World translation of a Rhone Syrah would be an Australian Shiraz, a much bolder version of the same grape that would complement, as well. I brought in a 2006 E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage, a 100% Syrah and not the traditional Rhone blend. It was a welcome wedding of Old World earthy spice with New World fruity boldness – a wine traditionally sourced from Old World France but produced to taste more New World in palette style.

It also matched up fantastically with the chocolate layer cake I made for dessert. Just as chocolate is oftentimes served with raspberry sauces in restaurants, the fruit of this wine brought dimension to the rich chocolate cake.

The next day, I got back down to earth with my comfort food, toasting a sharp cheddar grilled cheese on thick-cut bread for lunch. And downed the last remnants of the Crozes-Hermitage with it. After all, it’s all about the unconventional this year.

So go ahead and explore a new region and a new wine in this New Year—even if it’s from the Old World. Let this new year be full of unexpected wine adventures for you.

Find more on Crozes-Hermitage and the Rhone Valley Overall.

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