White Wine With Steak Why Not Go For It, Especially at Lunch?

Got the chance to have lunch at a legendary New York City spot, Keens Steakhouse, established in 1885. It provided me with the perfect opportunity to subvert the “Cab and a slab” classic pairing and have white wine with steak.

One of the things that helped this pairing is the salad. Greens, radishes, and a creamy dressing really bring this into white wine territory. And the wine was a Sauvignon Blanc from Austria that had a few years of age and saw some time in oak. (I wish I had written down the vintage and producer; emailed the resto but haven’t heard back. I’d like to applaud Keens for having some really cool whites by the glass. They were also pouring a blend from South Africa’s Mullineux and a white wine from the uber-trendy Jura region of France.)

White wines with a little richness can handle almost any meat. BTW, this was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. Perfectly cooked. Started with a great cocktail, too, a Paper Plane.

The other thing that made this pairing work? I wanted a white wine. Plain and simple. Why “force” yourself to drink something you don’t want just because it is supposed to “work” better?

White Wine With Steak Why Not Go For It, Especially at Lunch?

Final note on Keens. It has (per their website) “the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world.” They adorn the ceiling(s), as you can see in this photo. Read more about these pipes. Perhaps contemplate them the next time you’re there, naturally savoring a white wine with steak.

I’ve also recommended steak in raw form with a white. Check out my pairing for tartare. And I’ve been touting steak and Champagne since 2006. It was at a Nicolas Feuillatte dinner where I was blown away by how well their top wine, Palmes d’Or, was with a steak at Crush in Seattle.

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Champagne and Food Pairings

Champagne is one of, if not the most versatile beverage to pair with a wide variety of foods. As long as you avoid sweet foods and overly strong flavors, it’s hard to go wrong when pairing Champagne with many of your favorite foods. Here’s our foolproof guide to pairing Champagne with easy, everyday foods. No caviar required!

Champagne Pairing Basics

Match weight and texture: light foods tend to taste best with lighter wines; heavier foods usually taste best with stronger wines.

Match flavor intensity: Mild flavors usually pair better with delicate wine; more intense flavors typically taste better with richer wines.

Skip the sweets: Because Champagne is typically dry (and Fat Cork Champagne is almost always on the dry side), pairing Champagne with a sweet dessert can make the Champagne taste bitter. Instead, try pairing Champagne with dark chocolate and berries, or finish your meal with a bright, refreshing brut nature!


Champagne and Food Pairings

Champagne and Salty Foods

Champagne paired with salty foods makes one of the easiest and most delicious pairings! Salt balances acidic wine, so salty foods are especially great when paired with dry Champagnes (like brut natures). We love pairing dry Champagne with thick-cut potato chips, popcorn tossed with olive oil and parmesan, or homemade oven fries.

Champagne and Food Pairings

Champagne and Seafood

Classic and foolproof, almost all seafood pairs well with Champagne. A few of our favorites: oysters and blanc de blancs, grilled salmon and rosé, spicy fish tacos and pinot meunier.

Champagne and Food Pairings

Champagne and Take Out

Our favorite way to celebrate a weeknight: take out and Champagne. Pinot meunier Champagne compliments spicy food (try it with Vietnamese or Thai food), and brut nature shines with lighter foods (like sushi).

Champagne and Food Pairings

Champagne and Cheese

Stinky, creamy, hard, or soft, almost all cheeses pair well with Champagne! Add cured meats, olives, nuts, dried fruit, and bread to your cheese plate for even more delicious pairings.

Champagne and Food Pairings

Champagne with Brunch

Enjoy bubbly with brunch! Paired with rich eggs, salty bacon, tart berries, and buttery croissants, Champagne turns an always fun brunch into a super fun morning celebration.

A Wine Pairing With This Blog? The Drunken Cyclist Selection

In the annals of wine pairing, surely this is one question even I have not pondered. Thankfully, I know The Drunken Cyclist (TDC). Rather, thankfully, he knows me. Jeff over at TDC has one of my favorite wine blogs. He’s prolific, has a wry/dry sense of humor, is occasionally rant-y, and often thirsty.

Jeff does things like ride all over France with (full) boxes of Champagne strapped precariously to his bicycle. Think I’m exaggerating? Boom:

A Wine Pairing With This Blog? The Drunken Cyclist Selection

Anyhoo, as part of a wine blogging challenge with the theme “pairing”, Jeff eschewed food and picked…other blogs. Mine included.

So what wine pairs with this site? Guesses on my Facebook page were:

  • Silky-smooth aged Barolo
  • Gruner Veltliner (sorry, TDC, Grüner Veltliner)
  • Lambrusco
  • Something with bubbles

And none of these were correct. (Though I would have been happy if TDC picked any of the above.)

Find out the answer:

The Drunken Cyclist: Pairing Wine With Other Blogs


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How to Pair Wine With Figs and Cheese

How to Pair Wine With Figs and CheeseI was sent a powerhouse of a care package courtesy of Valley Fig Growers. Four fig spreads paired with four cheeses plus a lovely piece of slate to show off all this goodness on? Damn! Thank you. Naturally, as I began to unpack and snack, my thoughts turned to wine.

I broke out a few sample bottles of red showcasing a range of styles and grapes: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel. And just because it’s a little crazy, a (non-sample) bottle of Pinot Gris made by mingling the skins of the grapes with their juice for some extra-long love and togetherness. The resulting wine takes on a rosé-esque hue (thanks, colorful Pinot Gris grape skins!) that the cool kids call “orange wine”. Here are the four wines:

  • 2012 Raptor Ridge Estate Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley, OR (Pinot gets a rap for being light but this one has some oomph to it.)
  • 2011 Smith-Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon, Spring Mountain, Napa Valley, CA (Killer cab, not chunky, great olive/herbal notes.)
  • 2012 Tin Barn Vineyards Zinfandel, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, CA (Buckle up for this red.)
  • 2014 Fossil and Fawn Pinot Gris, Crowley Station Vineyards, Willamette Valley, OR (Savory/salty/cloudy/funky/fruity/cool…kind of a white wine for red wine drinkers. Though I’m not the first person to say something like that regarding this style of wine.)

The cheeses were each paired with a fig spread (Organic Mission, California Orange, Balsamic Pepper, Port Wine). And though in the above photo you see all the wines lined up, I wasn’t operating under the assumption x wine will go with y/z cheese/fig combo. It was more like trying to find which wine works with each combo.

Before I get too deep if someone asked me to pair wine with figs and cheese and I could only pick one bottle I’d select…


(Or a high-quality sparkling wine.)

When you have everything from light goat cheeses to strong blues, balanced nicely with the sweetness of each fig spread, Champagne is like the Swiss Army knife of wines. It has enough tools to get the job done in a variety of situations. Maybe sometimes you wish you had a full-size set of tools, right? Or an entire wine cellar at your disposal. But when confronted with cheese and fig-induced palate survival situations, reach for a bottle of bubbles. Is it going to be perfect? No. I say this to pre-empt any nit-picking.

Also, whenever there’s a wine and cheese party the majority of folks will bring a bottle of red and if you like to be a contrarian like me, bring a sparkling wine. Or a white. Or a rosé. Or (maybe you saw this coming?) a sparkling rosé.


Let’s have a quick #FigFYI interlude, courtesy Valley Fig Growers Facebook page:

How to Pair Wine With Figs and Cheese

And now my thoughts on the red wines:

How to Pair Wine With Figs and CheeseThe Pinot Noir was best with the Organic Mission Fig spread and the Sierra Nevada Cheese Company Organic Jack Cheese. Like fine Pinot Noir, the unadorned classics never go out of style. (Shout-out to Raptor Ridge Tempranillo and Grüner Veltliner.)

If you had a more rich, sweet(ish) Cabernet, the Triple Creme Brie from Marin French Cheese with the Balsamic Pepper spread would be awesome. The Smith-Madrone, however, is just too sleek for that. It’s one of my favorite Napa Cab because it’s not over-the-top. It tastes like Cabernet should.

My second favorite match was the Zinfandel with the Point Reyes Blue and Port Wine fig spread. Now, could you have had Port with this? Absolutely. But the Zin is burly enough to handle the strong cheese and the sweetness of the fig chills it out enough so that you can have a dry (but very rich and fruity) wine like the Tin Barn Vineyards. (They make really excellent, age-worthy Syrah, BTW.)

How to Pair Wine With Figs and CheeseBut the numero uno award goes to my #winecrush, Fossil & Fawn Pinot Gris. (Hey, check out a review in comic panel form.) It was sensational with the Laura Chenel Chabis Goat Cheese and the California Orange fig spread. Damn, what a dynamite match. The tart, pillowy goat cheese combined with the orange peel flavor and sweet/savory fig? POWERHOUSE.

So what the heck am I going to do with all of these leftover Valley Fig Growers spreads? Well you could swirl some into vanilla ice cream. Uh, yum. Or if dairy isn’t your thing, I’m thinking pork of the tenderloin or chop variety might benefit very nicely. Maybe swirl it into a pan sauce and punch it up with a little mustard? Check out the VFG website for some sweet and savory recipes and ideas.

Let me know what you come up with that’s fig-tastic. And call me.

I’ll bring the wine.

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