We live in a big country, and it’s fun to explore our many interesting and delicious regional cuisines. When summertime comes, there’s something about the flavors of the southwest, with their deep, earthy notes of chilies and spices balanced with the fresh, lively flavors of cilantro and lime, that lends itself to outdoor summer dining. But if you also love your wine (as we do), pairing these two sets of flavors takes a deft hand. Too much heat in your peppers and those smooth tannins in your Cabernet Sauvignon suddenly get a little less smooth; pack too big a punch with your boldly flavored seafood and gone are the delicate tropical notes of its Sauvignon Blanc pairing partner.
But you can successfully pair the nuanced and subtle flavors in wine with some incredibly delicious southwestern-style meals, and as in any good pairing, both the wine and the food benefit. “Wine is often traded for beer when pairing with the flavors of the Southwest, but there’s no reason that needs to be the case,” says Chef John Adamson. Amici co-owner John Harris grew up in Texas and he loves the flavors of his childhood, so when cooking for winery events, Chef Adamson often pairs Amici Cabernet Sauvignon and Amici Sauvignon Blanc with food that highlights the complex and bold flavors of the Southwest.
“Southwestern flavors, with their mix of chilies, cilantro and lime, pair well with Amici Sauvignon Blanc due to its palate-cleansing, crisp tropical notes,” says Chef Adamson. To explore these complementary flavors, Adamson created his Amici “Cantina” Fish Tacos, in which snapper or halibut gets a buttermilk batter dip before frying up crispy and delicious, topped with creamy chipotle and lime-laced cabbage and pico de gallo. The lively citrus and tropical fruit flavors and bright minerality of Amici Sauvignon Blanc bring just the right note of mouth-watering freshness for a perfect pairing.
As for Amici Cabernet Sauvignon, Chef Adamson likes to pair its dark berry and mocha flavors with a juicy, smoky grilled skirt steak and serve it with a chimichurri, highlighting the dark fruit with a palate-perking acidity. And if you want to walk on the wild side of food and wine pairings, just try John Adamson’s grilled Padrón peppers with sea salt: everything you were afraid to serve with a Cabernet works here. “The Padróns, with their characteristic ‘some hot-some not’ nature, enhance the wine’s fruit characteristics, while they are not hot enough to clash with its tannins,” says Chef Adamson. His recipe for Lone Star Skirt Steak with Padrón Peppers and Chimichurri is sure to become a summer favorite for you, as it is for us.