The Demystified Vine

Taking the mystery out of wine exploration!

The Confession

I’m starting this blog post with a confession. No, not the type of confession where I sit down with a mediator between heaven and earth, but a confession centred around “oh-my-why-didn’t-I-discover-these-food-and-wine-pairings-sooner”!

I was pleasantly surprised to discover how well Portugal’s bold libations paired with international cuisine on the level it did. I am not claiming that this was impossible, but that I wish I could have experienced these culinary adventures at least a decade ago. Now, when I cook spicy Indian or delicate Japanese, I will be considering choosing a wine from Portugal to pair with it. Win!



The Facts

  • Portugal offers a variety of interesting wine flavor profiles as a result of vinifying their unique range of over 250 indigenous grapes
  • According to archaeologists, Portugal was introduced to their grape varietals as far back as the Bronze Age
  • Tradition around wine making is on blending than single variety wines
  • Portugal has 31 DOCs/DOPs (Controlled Denominations of Origin)
  • Let’s learn Portuguese!
    “Adega” – winery, cellar, or wine company
    “Ano” – year
    “Branco” – white
    “Garrafa” – bottle
    “Seco” – dry
    “Tinto” – red
    “Vinho” – wine


The Luncheon

Setting: Santa Barbara. Friday, July 11, 2014. Wine Bloggers Conference’s Grandstand tent.

Setup: Head to a wine & food station, grab a pour, grab a plate, eat, taste, … and be transported into a cuisine chameleon’s world! No, they didn’t serve any cheese, but I just did.

Goal: “Discover Portugal: Influences Around the World – A Food & Wine Pairing Brunch” hosted by Wines of Portugal.


The Experience

Copyright © Valerie Stride 2014Pairing #1: Indian Masala Omelette with Quinta das Arcas – Arca Nova Alvarinho 2012

So, we all know how fun Alvarinho is, right?! Right!

This citrus-based beauty was youthful and classy. Hints of quince complemented the fine pear and yellow plum notes that drifted from the glass. The 2012 was bone-dry, with a light-bodied delicacy. On the palate, a slight prickle lifted the spirits, and brought out its green, herbaceous character.

The omelette had met its match, provided there was no spicy sauce on it. The topping on the egg pancake was made from potato flakes, tumeric, and coriander. Just enough gusto to give the tongue a run for its money!

The verdict: Can I have this for breakfast everyday?



Copyright © Valerie Stride 2014Pairing #2: Portuguese Crostini & Grilled Halibut with Tomato Compote Alongside Casa de Santar Reserva Tinto 2009

The Casa de Santar was an evolving wine with clear-cut notes of crushed red berries, raspberry juice, grilled herbs, black cherry, and toasty oak. The palate was a bit smokey, with a touch of black pepper. It was velvety to boot.

This red wine and the crostini were a great pairing; the zucchini and corn flavor profiles were lit-up by the wine itself.  As for the Halibut, well… I was not expecting them to match. I was under the impression that the wine booths were near the food stations that would provide the best pairings. Aluminum foil is not an attractive flavor to me. The tomato compote did nothing for me, either.

The verdict: Bring me more bread with veggies and more wine!



Copyright © Valerie Stride 2014Pairing #3: Japanese Tamagoyaki and Okonomiyaki with Herdade do Esporão – Duas Castas Branco 2012

Probably the best pairing I tried during the entire lunch was this white wine with the graceful elegance of the Japanese dishes.

The wine itself was light and brilliantly citrus-based, with white peach, minute hints of creaminess, and grassy notes. It was simply refreshing.

The Tamagoyaki (rolled omelette with sour cream) was, as I wrote in my notes, “awesome”. An appropriate pairing considering the fluffiness and lightness of the egg alongside the light flavor of the sour cream. The Okonomiyaki was interesting, as I have never had “Japanese pancakes with syrup” before. I thought the syrup was too sweet for the wine, although it did help to show the bracing acidity in the vino. What’s the rule again? Oh right, your wine should always be sweeter than your food.

The verdict: I’d do it all over again regardless of the syrup.


The Conclusion

Photo by George Rose

Photo by George Rose


As it is creeping up on lunchtime for me, I am disliking the fact that I am staring at these food & wine pairings and reliving the savory memories of each. Gurgle.

Many thanks to the Wines of Portugal for hosting this luncheon for us; it truly was an amazing experience overall. I am a huge fan of experimentation and adventure, and this lunch opened the eyes of many to the fact that Portugal has more than just Port.


2 thoughts on “Wines of Portugal: Cuisine Chameleons

  1. Lovely photo of you! (Far better than the mug shots on our blog)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: