Nothing calls for wine like a cheese board. The typical rule of thumb is to pair the wine with the intensity of the cheese. That’s how you end up with classic pairings like Port and stilton or Sauvignon Blanc and goat cheese. In this case, we have a broad, diverse range of cheeses. Still, there’s no need to push the panic button. Try an off-dry Riesling from Tantalus, one of British Columbia’s leading producers. Winemaker David Paterson stewards old vines that date to 1978, the early days of the BC wine industry. Their flagship Riesling is one of the best values in the province year-in and year-out, and it pairs beautifully with a range of cheeses thanks to its bright, vibrant acidity and chalky minerality. Champagne is another great option, especially for special occasions. Wines with a higher proportion of Pinot Noir, like Pierre Paillard’s “Les Parcelles,” will be richer and more versatile. An easy trick? Look for wines labelled as Blanc de Noirs. They are made strictly from red grape varieties like Pinot Noir.
Mediterranean dishes like this Niçoise salad are vegetable-forward and incorporate salty, tangy ingredients like olives and capers. Salt demands acidity. It’s why we squirt lemon juice over top of our fish and chips. And it’s why the most successful wine pairings are crisp white wines and rosés. Just think about the wines you find in the Mediterranean. It’s citrusy white wines like Picpoul de Pinet or light, refreshing Provençal rosés.
Closer to home in the Okanagan Valley, Hester Creek is one of the few producers to farm Trebbiano, a Mediterranean white grape variety that is found throughout Italy. The vines were originally planted in 1968, and this wine shows the intense concentration that you can expect from old vines.
Domaine De Rimauresq 2021 Cru Classé Rosé | Côtes de Provence
Hester Creek 2021 Old Vines Block 16 Trebbiano | Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Valley
Dynamite Fish Tacos
Typically when you pair sushi, you’re looking to highlight the delicacy of the fish as well as complement the umami flavours of the nori and soy sauce. A light, restrained, mineral-driven white wine, such as Chablis or Sancerre, is just about perfect. Adding a spicy component, like the spicy mayo in these dynamite fish tacos, changes the equation. An easy solution is to reach for an off-dry wine. A pinch of sweetness helps to balance the heat, just like it does in cooking. One great option: an affordable sparkling wine like Prosecco. From the rolling hillsides of the Veneto in northeast Italy, Prosecco is crisp, fruit-driven, and floral – and often made in an Extra Dry style. Counterintuitively, that means the wines are off-dry, perfect for our dynamite fish tacos. You can also find Prosecco-inspired wines in the Okanagan Valley, too, such as the Effervescence wines from Evolve Cellars.
Evolve Cellars Effervescence | Okanagan Valley
Turkey Penne Rose
Tomato sauce is often an open-and-shut case. You can pop just about any Italian red and odds are it will work. A more nuanced approach is to look for wines that come from the ancestral home of the sauce. Take spaghetti alla puttanesca from Naples. It pairs beautifully with the red wines of nearby Puglia, such as Primitivo, Italy’s version of Zinfandel. And then you have tomato cream sauce. This complicates things. Traditionally, a cream sauce calls for a crisp, refreshing white wine that livens the dish. With a rose sauce, we can split the difference – and take inspiration from the name – with a rosato. In the Okanagan Valley, LaStella captures the Italian way of life with wines like their LaStellina Rosato, which shows bright red berries, citrus, and savoury herbs.
Poplar Grove 2021 Rosé | Okanagan Valley
LaStella 2021 LaStellina Rosé | Okanagan Valley
Geoffrey Moss is a Master of Wine and founded Lithica Wine Marketing in 2019, a boutique agency that helps wineries develop effective, customer-centric business and marketing strategies. He runs the wine consulting business from Penticton in the heart of the Okanagan Valley. An avid writer, Geoffrey is also a wine reviewer/critic and contributor at Gismondi on Wine, and has previously been published on Jamie Goode’s WineAnorak, Jancis Robinson’s Purple Pages and Palate Press.