Question 5: Best Food Matches for Special Wines
I’m looking for a perfect food match for a 1982 Chateau Margaux and a few other older french wines and wondered if you could help out. (I’m sure you can!)
Dear Nancy –
Oh my goodness. I am so jealous! To have access to an ’82 Château Margaux is a very special event indeed. No wonder you want to ensure that the food lives up to the occasion!
First of all, I checked out the 1982 Margaux vintage on the latest 2011 version of Robert Parker Jr.’s Vintage Guide, which indicates that the ’82 vintage has been rated overall at 86 points out of 100 – “above average to excellent” – and is ready to drink now. The Terroir France site also recommends the 1982 Margaux vintage as a special one. And Chateux Margaux itself, of course, is the only Premier Grand Cru Classé house in the overall Margaux region. Auspicious start!
Now, what food will live up to this wine? When faced with a dilemma such as this, I ask myself what the locals would do. Terroir is as important in food as it is in wine – and the traditional matching of wines to the foods that are iconic in the same regions makes the most sense to me. The “locavore” movement that has taken hold in the last few years honours this approach as well, though for different reasons (eco consciousness rather than tradition).
At the same time, we need to honour the magnificant alchemy that can happen when certain foods are paired with certain wines, what I like to call the “1 + 1 = 5 factor”. In this case, the dominance of Cabernet Sauvignon in this wine’s blend cries out for food that will work in harmony with the rich tannins. So your main dish should be a protein with a high fat content, since tannin plus fat is a match made in heaven in the mouth.
Traditional Bordelais dishes along these lines include Pauillac Lamb and Entrecote (steak) Bordelaise. The latter dish makes use of wine in its sauce, which is great if you are willing to sacrifice some of your bottle to the pan (when cooking with wine, you should use the same wine as you are drinking for best effect), or you could substitute a cheaper alternative but then you run the risk of the two wines’ flavours competing. Also, the butter in the sauce may make for TOO fatty a dish, since given the age of your bottle, the tannins may be somewhat muted, so I think you want a rich red meat but not a rich sauce on top of it. Thus my recommendation is for a lovely roast lamb dish. One recipe I found on the web that includes both mushrooms and potatoes can be found here.
I hope this helps! Let me know what you end up choosing to cook, and how your evening goes!