Pairings You Should Know

Several months ago, I wrote an article on guidelines for wine and food pairing and recently, one of my favorite readers (Joe, aka husband 😉 ) requested an article on specific pairings.

The “Classic” list below is pairings that most wine industry people agree on and is wine 101 knowledge. The “Mainstream” list is pairings many consider “no fails.” If you are beginning your journey in wine the lists will, at the very least, give you a jumping off point. I encourage you to branch out from the wines stated as many producers from around the globe are spinning similar takes on traditional wines.  When in doubt, a good rule of thumb is to pair food and wine from the same region.


  1. Oysters & Chablis ~ Chablis: unoaked Chardonnay from the Chablis region, France (Champagne is also a great option with oysters)
  2. Foie Gras & Sauternes ~ Sauternes: made using Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes affected by Boytritis (Noble Rot) from the Graves region in Bordeaux, France
  3. Caviar & Champagne ~ Champagne: sparkling wine made using primarily Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes that have been produced following a strict set of rules (to include secondary fermentation) in the Champagne region, France
  4. Goat Cheese & Sancerre ~ Sancerre: Sauvignon Blanc from the eastern part of the Loire Valley, France
  5. Stilton Cheese & Port ~ Port: fortified wine produced in the Douro Valley, Portugal
  6. Steak & Big Reds ~ Big Reds: a mouthful of tannic deliciousness ex. Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, red Bordeaux



  1. Mushrooms & Red Burgundy ~ Red Burgundy: Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region, France often having mushroom notes
  2. BBQ (Pork or Beef) & California Zinfandel ~ Zinfandel: a full-bodied red wine from California known for it’s spicy character (Italian Primitivo is the same varietal)
  3. Lobster with drawn butter & oaked California Chardonnay ~ oaked CA Chardonnay: white wine of Chardonnay grapes that have spent time aging in oak barrels, often new French oak
  4. Osso Bucco & Barolo or Barbaresco ~ Barolo / Barbaresco: Nebbiolo wine from the Piedmont region, Italy; Barolo is heavier and is a region about 10km from Barbaresco, where the Nebbiolo grape is a bit more elegant

Now That’s A Good Pairing!

Currently, I live in Hawaii and it is hot – especially in the late afternoon, say around 5-6pm when dinner preparation should be going down. Supposedly, I live on the “windward side” of the island but of late the winds have not been so forthcoming so I’m very interested in any recipe that does not include cranking up the oven.

This evening I decided to try a recipe I stumbled on through Facebook. It was originally published by Jennifer Fiedler of Wine Spectator utilizing the quintessential pairing of goat cheese and sauvignon blanc. Jennifer also included a tomato salad stating the wine stood up to the raw tomato. I’m not so sure my taste buds agreed so I’ll just focus on the sandwich which paired beautifully with the wine.

Jennifer suggested a high acid, citrusy sauvignon blanc but I didn’t do my homework before purchasing and ended up with a 2011 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand. In my opinion, it paired very nicely.


This is the perfect dinner if you’re looking for something simple, loaded with flavor and perfectly paired. It definitely put me in my happy place.

Grilled Goat Cheese Sandwich
Servings: 2
1 zucchini
3 TB butter
2 pieces of flatbread
6 oz goat cheese
1/4 c. minced green olives (don’t be scared they add the perfect subtle tang)

~Using a vegetable peeler, slice long ribbons of zucchini lengthwise
~Split each flatbread into two slices (4 pieces total) and butter both sides
~For each sandwich, spread the goat cheese on the inside of each piece of bread.  On the bottom slice, spread 1/2 of the minced olives and a thin layer of zucchini. Cover with top slice.
~Heat a grill pan on medium-high heat on stove top. Place sandwiches in pan and press down using a can
~Cook until the butter has browned (around 2-3 minutes) and then flip carefully with a spatula
~Cook until the butter has browned on the second side and the interior is heated through
~Slice in half diagonally and serve immediately with a chilled sauvignon blanc of your choice.



Saiko Sushi…Sensational Sushi!

I’ve eaten at Saiko Sushi several times and think “I should really write about this place in my blog.”  Well the time is now – this place deserves some kudos!  Both the food and service are fantastic!  The wait-staff and owners are friendly and appreciative of their customers.  Something I find very refreshing!

My first visit to Saiko Sushi was when the place was merely a couple days old and my last visit was just a couple of weeks ago.  It has consistently served fabulous, fresh food.  Another plus (because I’m a wine girl) is a reasonable corkage fee if you choose to bring your own wine (they offer a decent albeit small wine selection as well as beer and misc. non-alcoholic beverages).  The sake selection is extensive if you prefer to sip on the rice wine variation.

This last visit I was dining with my lovely family.  We started with Edamame.  They offer the basic but always delicious sea salt version and a house version with celery salt and garlic.  After that we enjoyed the raw special of the day inclusive of halibut, micro cilantro (totally made the dish) and a tasty sweet sauce.

They have a few fru-fru offerings.  I appreciate the forward thinking but stick with the more traditional flavors and leave the goat cheese to someone else.  For our entree we split the Tokyo Dirty Rice – with descriptor words like shrimp, bacon and pineapple we couldn’t go wrong!

Even my daughter likes it.  She always orders the teriyaki chicken and thinks the mashed potatoes are some of the best.   Of course she’d go just for the “Godzilla” movies playing silently on the flat screen.  Yes, I even have Saiko Sushi to thank for introducing her to some of my childhood culture.

Don’t leave without trying dessert.  A sushi joint is not usually what you think of when you think of great sweet endings but they take the time to dream up such fun creations that you just have to try it.  That evening their creative minds conjured up pomegranite creme brulee and a green tea ice cream sandwich.  The ice cream sandwich was tempura battered….need I say more!

Saiko Sushi – 116 Orange Avenue, Coronado CA 92118, (619) 435-0992


Chevre in France

I have recently returned from a trip to the South of France. Another way to say it would be, I have recently returned from a week splurging on delicacies like foie gras, lamb, duck, tapenade, crepes, pain au chocolat, crème brulee…..I could go on and on but will just say “etc.” I’m in need of a fat detox program now but the experience was well worth every ounce of fat gained!
As most people know, France is known for their many decadent foods, but the one that stood out to me this trip is the goat cheese, Chevre. Chevre in French literally means “goat.” I’ve had plenty of goat cheeses, but none like these. They were the freshest I’ve ever tasted – soft, delicate and possessing the distinct talent of being tangy and subtle simultaneously. A few were topped with “savory” – an herb mixture that tastes like thyme with a pinch of rosemary and a teeny bit of sage. Frequently, it was served with fresh baguette, something the French have perfected more than anyone else. Many times during the week, my lunch obsession was mesculin beautifully presented with a lightly herb-breaded disk of warm Chevre looking up at me from the center of the salad and oozing out seductively when cut open.

Chevre comes in many shapes – logs, disks, cones and even pyramids. It is often topped with herbs, ash, pepper or leaves. Some of the most famous Chevre comes from along the banks of the Loire River. Traditionally, the cheese is handmade on farms with small goat herds where the land is lush and the climate moderate.
There are soft, young forms or hard, aged forms of Chevre. The soft, young variety reminds me of a texture somewhere between cream cheese and Feta. It is mild and creamy making it ideal for melting on fancy gourmet pizzas. It is also good in sandwiches, breaded for an upscale salad or appetizer, or simply served on a cheese platter with crackers or baguette. The hard, aged variety is dry and firm. It is slightly sharp and acidic. Some say it tastes similar to Gouda. Whatever the case, it is a lovely addition to sandwiches, pastas and cheese platters.

If all this talk of Chevre is making your mouth water, I encourage you to explore the world of artisan cheese and hunt down a log, disk, cone or pyramid. And let me encourage you to wash it down with a white wine from the Loire region, a Sancerre perhaps. By the way, many U.S. goat dairies produce some pretty darn good versions that can stand up quite well to the French…..just don’t tell them that I said that.

Another link for buying Chevre