It was after my friend’s holiday in Gura Siriului, Buzău County, last summer. Near Gura Siriului lies Pleșcoi, the village famous for its sausages. My friend showed at my door with a 2-kilo bag of Pleșcoi sausages. ‘Good thing’, I said, and I was ready to cook them. ‘Stop’, he protested, ‘what about the wine?’
I was lucky enough to live near a wineshop that is part of one of the big chains in Bucharest. Also, they were open until 9 pm, otherwise my wine-sausage issue would have turned complicated.
I was even more lucky that they have a fair selection of Argentinian wines. Of course, the matching the terroir temptation is strong when pairing a Romanian soon becoming DOP speciality. In other words, I would have instinctively looked for a Romanian wine with the sausage. And still, thinking of the characteristics of the food – meaty, spicy mutton – I realized for example that a harshly tannic wine would not fit well with the spicy sausages, while low tannins would not stand up to the weight of the dish. The solution would be, therefore, a wine with ripe tannins. Furthermore, spicy food demands sweetness and fruitiness in the wine. I have already mentioned three taste components of a new world red. Logically, Argentinian Malbec or Australian Shiraz took place on my short list.
I then took to the wineshop and, without much thinking, I chose La Celia Elite Malbec 2014, which was the right quality for the right price at that moment. There were other, more expensive options, too.
La Celia’s wine proved to be the quintessential new world red. Rich and intense, it displayed all the characteristics mentioned above. The wine marvellously offset the spiciness of the sausage, while its acidity took care of the fattiness. Full-bodied, it really stood up to the weighty food.
In fact, there is always a risk with Argentinian wines because they grow vines at so many different altitudes there and employ various winemaking techniques, that they are able to produce red wines in the new world style, as well as classical, Bordeaux-like reds. Sheltered by the Andes, grape vines in Argentina are typically grown between 300 and 2200 metres altitude (Keevil et al., 2009/2010). There are also extremes, of which Jancis Robinson MW talks in her article The highest vineyards in the world.
Once I had tried to match Adana kebab with Reserva Malbec from Bodega Norton. It was an important party and I was disappointed by the pairing, as Norton’s wine tastes rather European.
Coming back to my first natural tendency to reach for a Romanian wine, I and my friend continued our reflection on what goes good with sausages and realized that there was at least one producer who made Shiraz in the new world style in Dobrogea region. The wine that came to our minds was Halewood Neptunus Shiraz. Since then, I haven’t had the opportunity to taste this wine with Pleșcoi sausages, but I think it could fit well. I would be happy to receive a comment from anyone who tests this wine pairing with sausage.
- Keevil, S., Adams, G., Austin, C., Bodains, R., Besonen, J., & Buckley, K., … Williams, D. (2010). Vinurile lumii [Wines of the world] (p. 535). București: Litera Internațional (Original work published 2009).
Categories: Food and Wine Pairing