Chow Town

March 21, 2014

Classic, not so classic white wine matches

Most of the wine drinkers I know are red wine drinkers, almost exclusively, and almost to the man or woman.

Chow Town

The daily dish on Kansas City's food and drink scene

Most of the wine drinkers I know are red wine drinkers, almost exclusively, and almost to the man or woman.

I’ve even had some friends describe white wine as “fake wine” and red wine as “real wine.”

Thank goodness I found enough white wine lovers in my circle of winos to weigh in on my question, “What’s your favorite white wine food pairing and why?”

There are some classic matches: Chablis and scallops, White Burgundy and roast chicken, Sauvignon Blanc and mussels ….

However, it was my goal in this article, and the

one earlier this week on red wine pairings

, to take a slightly different tack and see what other matches might be on people’s minds. The responses I got were both surprising and sumptuous.

Let’s start with more of a classic from Susan Thorne-Thomsen, co-owner of Story restaurant in Prairie Village.

“My favorite is Bollinger Champagne paired with oysters,” she said. “I love champagne in general. When we go out to eat we always start with bubbles.

“If the restaurant offers oysters on the half shell, we’ll have those too. The freshness of the oysters, the brine and salt and little bit of acidity from lemon or a vinaigrette goes great with the carbonation, the taste of yeast and the dryness of the champagne.”

This is definitely one of my favorite pairings too, though I usually have to go with a domestic sparkler as Bollinger can get a bit pricey.

Down the road in the Freighthouse District, I tapped into the mind of Nicholas Grunauer of Grunauer restaurant. Serving seriously authentic Austrian cuisine with a wine list heavy on white wine, I knew this would be an easy one for him, and so it was.

“Schnitzel and Grüner Veltliner for sure,” Grunauer said. “Great acidity in the wine balances the fried breading. Notes of citrus and lemon in the Gruner really hit the lemon for the schnitzel and the traditional potato and cucumber side. Not only is this my favorite pairing, it’s my favorite meal.”

From University of Missour-Kansas City’s public relations manager and former Kansas City Star food editor John Martellaro, there was this yummy suggestion: “I love white Bordeaux with clams, particularly a clam dish that employs butter. I love them both separately anyway, but a good white Bordeaux has the acidity to cut through the butter, as well as a creamy quality that marries well with the brine of the clams.”

Hey, John, I’m waiting for the invite.

Ryan Maybee, mixologist and co-owner of the Rieger Hotel Grill Exchange, had a slightly different take.

“I’d say my favorite food/wine pairing is Fino or Manzanilla Sherry with Iberico ham. It’ simple, but unlike anything else in the world. I’m pretty sure I could live on just those two things,” Maybee said.

Finally there was this from Megghen Driscol, a wine expert out of California, and always a great “go-to” source for wine information.

“Well, that’s an easy one. I love champagne — or domestic sparkling — with potato chips,” she said. “No ridges, no flavors, just old school Lays potato chips. Really good French fries will also do in a pinch. There’s something about the oil and salt combined with the acid and cleansing bubbles just works for me. It’s not sexy; but definitely yummy.”

And, there you have it, my completely arbitrary, totally unscientific exploration of the wonderful world of food and wine pairings.

Hope it gave you some ideas for things you might try moving forward. Cheers!

Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons, or nearly 300 half-hour episodes produced on six continents. Eckert is also an avid wine collector and aficionado, having amassed a personal wine cellar of some 2,000 bottles.

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