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Toasting warm-weather food, wine pairings

June 7, 2011

From barbecues to picnics, warm weather means longer days and al fresco gatherings with friends and family. To help make these months even more delicious, WineAnswers.com and Jill Silverman Hough, author of the new cookbook “100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy with Wines You Love,” have teamed up to bring you some great ideas for wine and food pairings for this time of year.
“As we say good-bye to colder weather, we say hello to lighter, brighter wines to complement the new seasonal foods on the table,” said Hough. “A great pairing is purely subjective, though, so have fun experimenting.”
Hough offers a few simple tips for dynamic duos:
u Pair like with like-You’ll almost never go wrong pairing foods and wines with similar characteristics - for example, bright foods with bright wines (vinaigrette-dressed salad with Sauvignon Blanc), heavy foods with heavy wines (steak and Cabernet Sauvignon), and slightly sweet foods with slightly sweet, or off-dry wines (onion and apple tart with off-dry Gew¸rztraminer).
u Lighten up-As heavier foods give way to lighter fare, so do the wines that go with them. Whites, in general, will go with dishes like vegetable risotto, but crisper and lighter-bodied wines like Pinot Grigio and Riesling are especially good right now. If you prefer reds, try lighter, brighter varieties, like Pinot Noir and one of my personal favorites for warm weather, rosÈ.
u Complementary Flavors-Once a pairing works based on general characteristics, add nuances. That could mean adding grassy tarragon to pan-sautÈed tilapia to pick up on the sometimes-grassy nuances of Sauvignon Blanc. Or adding orange zest to crab salad to complement the citrusy notes of Viognier.
For more pairing tips, and any other wine questions you can’t uncork, join the discussion at www.Facebook.com/WineAnswers.

Onion and Apple Tart
Pair with a bottle of Gew¸rztraminer
Serves 6 to 8

4 tablespoons of (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 onions (about 1 pound), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pastry dough for one 11-inch tart or 9-inch deep-dish pie
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1 sweet-tart baking apple, such as McIntosh or Jonathan
Special equipment: 11-inch fluted tart pan (1 1/8 inches deep) with a removable bottom
u In large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions, salt and pepper, stirring occasionally until soft, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to very low, stirring occasionally, until onions are pale gold, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
u On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 14-inch circle. Fit dough into an 11-inch fluted pan with removable bottom. Trim excess to a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold it back into pan to reinforce fluted edge. Using a fork, pierce bottom of pastry all over. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
u Preheat oven to 400°F.
u Place chilled shell on rimmed baking sheet and line shell with foil and pie weights. Bake until pastry is set and pale gold along the rim, 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and continue baking until shell is golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes.
u Meanwhile, in medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream and nutmeg. Stir in onions. Peel, core and thinly slice apple.
u Remove shell from oven, pour egg mixture in, and arrange apple slices decoratively on top. Press apples to slightly submerge them. Bake until top is lightly browned, 25 to 35 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
“100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy with Wines You Love,” by Jill Silverman Hough, courtesy of Wiley.

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