So you saw this week’s recipe, Spicy Sausage and Pumpkin Wonton Cups, read the suggestion for pairing the dish with Riesling or Gewürztraminer, but you’re having a tough time thinking of a specific bottle to acquire. No problem, picking a specific wine can be tough. We’ve got you covered.
Breaking down the food’s flavor profile
To start providing you with the tools you need to succeed in choosing a good wine to pair with a meal, let’s discuss how to break down our the flavor profile of our dish. A good place to start, is by looking at the name of the dish. In this case (Spicy Sausage and Pumpkin Wonton Cups), we’re provided with a pretty solid overview of the flavors. We’ve got spicy sausage, pumpkin and wontons. Not a bad mix of flavors and textures to work with when identifying a wine for pairing.
To start, I’m immediately drawn to the word spicy. When I hear spicy, I recognize that I need a wine with good acidity to stand up to or balance the spice. Acid? Check!
Let’s continue on to our next foodie flavor – pumpkin. Pumpkin makes me think of fall spice (not the hot stuff, but baking spice, the flavors and aromas that fill your house on Thanksgiving), which instantly sends me to wanting a wine with fruit, but lighter fruit notes. I’m not talking a big jammy Zinfandel or cherry-rich Cabernet Sauvignon, both of those would overpower our subtle baking spice. We need something that compliments not emulsifies the flavor! So that takes me to Riesling or Gewürztraminer on the white wine front or Pinot Noir if I’m looking for a red.
The Pinot Noir might work, but not what I’m picturing when pairing something with spicy sausage. More importantly, this blog is focused on Washington wines. And guess what, Washington State is not known for its Pinot Noir (it is grown in Washington but in very low quantities, and there is a reason for that…it’s not Washington’s forte). So we’re now back to Riesling, which does happen to be something that Washington grows exceptionally well.
Oh Riesling, You fickle beast…
Riesling has quite the spectrum of styles. It can be flat on the acid front, while heavy in the fruit or the complete opposite. We need a Riesling that provides us with a moderate amount of fruit, but more importantly a backbone of acid. Luckily, there are lots of Washington Rieslings that fit this description. Time to go shopping.
So we’re down at the local wine shop, and we’re ready to ask for some help in guiding our purchase. Here’s what you’ll want to ask for: A Riesling with fruit forward notes, that also possesses a fresh acidity. From here it is all about the price you want to pay and maybe snagging a couple of different bottles so you can do your own tasting with the Spicy Sausage and Pumpkin Wonton Cups.
For A Song Riesling ($7.99)
This single-vineyard Riesling features a bright, lively chorus of orange blossom, peach, and pear notes, with fresh acidity, delicate minerality, and a lovely mouth feel. A touch of honeysuckle lingers on the finish. – Producer Tasting Notes (2012 Vintage)
Nine Hats Riesling ($11.99)
A harmony of white peach, honey, ripe pear and jasmine aromas and flavors are balanced by a vibrant acidity that lingers across a long, clean finish. – Winery Tasting Notes (2013 Vintage)