If your mind is turning to Friday night and the weekend ahead well here’s some food and wine inspiration for you from Raul Diaz and his monthly wine and food recipe on The Buyer. This month he is turning his attention to Pinot Gris, this increasingly popular planted grape variety that Diaz believes is ideal for food pairing thanks to its “amazing honeyed personality with lush fruits and spicy accents”. HIs perfect choice to pair with Pinot Gris is a plate of spiced aubergine. Here’s how to pull it together.
You can find more of Raul Diaz’s food and pairings in his award winning book Wines & Recipes, published in November 2020 (£30, www.winetraining.co.uk), which won the Best in the World for Wine Education in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2020.
Pinot Gris, thought to be a mutation of Pinot Noir, originated in Burgundy in France. The grape can also be found as Pinot Grigio in Italy and Grauburgunder in Germany.
The best examples of this grape now come from the French region of Alsace. This region has an ideal climate for growing grape. Here, the fruit is able to fully ripen and the subsequent wines display an amazing honeyed personality with lush fruits and spicy accents. The exact style varies depending upon location and yields. Let’s remember that Alsace is one of the best wine regions in the word when it comes to the diversity of soils.
Pinot is mostly made as a single varietal but it can be also a great blending partner. The aromas & flavours spectrum will vary based on where is produced around the world. Classic aromas of peach, apricot, apple, honey, and sweet spices. The acidity ranges from medium to high and the sweetness levels can from dry, off-dry to sweet wine.
This grape has delicious fruit character, intense aromas, soft texture and great minerality. Some producers use skin contact to improve the intensity and complexity of the final wine. This is a winemaking technique that is very common when the producer wishes to create a richer white wine.
Pinot Gris is a very versatile and aromatic variety that can pairs with many different recipes. There are three main considerations that you should keep in mind when it comes to wine and food pairing.
- Sweetness level: residual sugar will be very useful for the pairing specially if you like spicy food.
- Oily texture: This is a common feature that Pinot Gris shares with Rieslings in Alsace. This rich texture will pairs really well with powerful recipes. The weight of the wine – normally from medium to full body – will contribute to a more balanced pairing experience.
- Honeyed character: The honeyed character will help with the spices in a specific recipe. It will balance the elements making the spices smoother and softer.
Pinot Gris and cheese can be a revelation. Since we have different type of sweetness from dry to sweet, you just need to experiment with several cheeses particularly if they have a touch of sweetness. Pinot Gris does well with cheeses like Taleggio, Munster and event Raclette. This wine has enough power and intensity to enhance the pairing experience.
Light examples are found in Friuli in northern Italy. These wines are aromatic and full of citrus and stone fruits. More complex styles come from Alsace (France), Pfalz and Baden (Germany), where the wines have tropical fruit flavours, such as melon, spice, and honey. Sweet wines from Alsace are full-bodied with even more pronounced honey and rich tropical fruit flavours.
Lime, pear, apple, melon, peach, pineapple, almond, honey and spice.
Alsace, Fruili, Pfalz, Trentino Alto Adige, Veneto
Pinot Gris – Spicy Aubergine, Feta & Pomegranate
If you like contrasts of texture and flavour, this recipe is for you. Aubergine is a ‘meaty’ vegetable, with great density and texture. Feta adds acidity, saltiness and a creamy texture. Rounding out this attractive dish is pomegranate which contributes a touch of sweetness. With a full-bodied Pinot Gris, the ripe stone fruits and a honeyed character will create a pleasing balance between
food and wine.
1. Heat a griddle pan over a high heat and, working in batches, griddle the aubergine slices until soft through and nicely charred on both sides. Once cooked, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt, black pepper and chilli flakes, making sure each slice is nicely coated.
2. Arrange the aubergine slices on a large serving platter and top with the feta, parsley, mint and pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and squeeze over the juice, and serve.
Time: 45 minutes
4 large aubergines, sliced
lengthways into 5mm thick
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chilli flakes
200g feta, crumbled
a bunch of parsley, roughly
a bunch of mint leaves,
1 pomegranate, seeds only
zest and juice of 1 lemon
sea salt and black pepper
Good value option
Waimea Estates, Pinot Gris, Nelson, New Zealand 2020
From Majestic. Click here. £13.99
Domaine Weinbach, Pinot Gris Cuvee Laurence, Alsace, France 2002
The Greenhouse, 2 Michelin Stars, London. £130
- Raul Diaz is an award-winning author of Wines & Recipes, published in November 2020 (£30, www.winetraining.co.uk), Best in the World for Wine Education in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2020. A Chilean-born sommelier who became a WSET-certified wine educator, he now runs his own business, Wine Training School. He has been a TV wine presenter for Sunday Brunch, Channel 4 for several years. He is UK Ambassador for VDP German wines, and in 2018 received the award for Rioja Communicator of the Year.