Making Scents of Wine and Food

When matching wines for most dishes, I often look to the sauce or seasoning. Yeah, you can play it safe with the “white with fish and red with meat” routine, but that doesn’t always work, and it’s not always fun either. And fun is what it’s all about, right?

Spring is a time for new beginnings, so why not let that idea apply to your wine choices? There’s certainly nothing wrong with a good ol’ Chardonnay (it’s hard to beat a good White Burgundy in my glass), but stepping outside the box may add a little spice to your life… literally. If you haven’t already, grab a bottle of wine with one of the funny grape names like Gruner Veltliner, Albariño, or Torrontes. These are wines that are not only good, but come with prices that taste great too.

With Chef Kuntz’ honey mustard glaze, I’d go with white. Not because red won’t work—it does—but because after hunkering down with red wines through one of the coldest winters in a long while, I am ready for some white!

Austria’s Gruner Veltliner works great with this dish. The wine has exotic citrus fruit flavors and aromas of white pepper, lentils, and subtle herbs followed by a high acidity that refreshes the mouth after each bite.

Albariño, from Spain’s Riax Baixas region, is a winner as well. Often described as having scents of almonds or almond paste, apples, peaches, citrus, and flowers, it provides a great contrast to the herbaceous complexity of this dish.

Torrontes, the signature white grape of Argentina, works well too, but this grape is not for the faint of heart. Decidedly unique and very expressive, this is a light-bodied dry wine with matching aromas and flavors of tropical fruit, candied peaches, and lychee nut with a spicy floral nose that wakes up the senses.

Remember, spring is all about new. So don’t just open a bottle—open your mind and experience the many great wines the world has to offer. Enjoy!

Recommended producers:

Loimer, Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal, Austria, 2003
Prager, Gruner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria, 2004
Morgadio, Albariño, Riax Baixas, Spain, 2004
Laxas, Albariño, Riax Baixas, Spain, 2004
LaYunta, Torrontez, Salta, Argentina, 2004
Crios, Torrontez, Mendoza, 2005

John McCune is the director of wine at the Yellowstone Club in Big Sky.