Pairing Food with Viognier
Viognier balances fleshy seductiveness, an undercurrent of acidity, and complex minerality.
In some styles, it is the perfect food wine; in others, it comes across so big and full-bodied that it is almost a meal in itself. Despite its natural lack of acid, Viognier is a wonderful food wine. But if Viognier is so naturally low in acids, what makes it such a great food wine?
Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein, author of Perfect Pairings, has this to say about Viognier: “The flavor profile and texture are what make Viognier sing at the table. Not all matches are grounded in acidity. Though it makes pairing dishes with sharpness very difficult, preparations that stress brighter and fruitier elements (chutneys to mango salsas, Floribbean to South East Asian cuisines) rock, as do creamy textured sauces.”
Goldstein recommends pairing young versions of the wine with food that “suggests sweetness but are not really sweet,” such as Indian or Moroccan cuisines, braised chicken or stuffed trout, and ingredients that pick up fruit and spice flavors. Root veggies, pastas, grains, oily nuts, and richer fish or white meats are also good matches. It’s also an amazing compliment to shellfish such as scallops, crab, and lobster.
Try not to pair it with lighter foods. The wine is so expressive that the dish will be lost. Avoid very tart or sharp flavors, like vinaigrettes or other acid-based dressings, as well as high heat dishes—since Viognier is often high in alcohol, it will make the food seem even hotter.
Some of Goldstein’s favorite pairings for the wine?
“I love Viognier with cheese plates/assortments. It’s a slam dunk across a large range of cheeses post your meal, and with fried chicken—really!” Drink it young. Viognier is a wine to be consumed in its youth, mostly because of the aforementioned low acidity. “The charm of Viognier is in its young and flamboyant fruit, which will dissipate with age,” says Goldstein. A very few of the wines have some ageing potential, but why risk it when they are better fresh in the bottle? This is instant gratification wine.
From our July/August issue. See how with its variety of microclimates, the Pacific Northwest is well suited for making different styles of wine from the Viognier grape.
By Jennifer Cossey