Daring Pairings: Korean BBQ & Chilean Wine!

IMG_5333Korean BBQ and Chilean wine sounds like a crazy combination of flavors, aromas, and textures, right? Imagine that in one hand you have mild to spicy (depending how you like it) cuisine, and in the other hand you have a glass of Carménère that has striking green bell pepper, peppercorn, sour cherry, and tobacco notes. I know, many of you are probably thinking that this pairing sounds “tongue numbingly painful”, but surprisingly the wines work with this type of cuisine and vice versa!

I had the pleasure of dining at Miss Lily’s with Winemaker Felipe Tosso of Viña Ventisquero wines. This Chilean Winery is home to some fantastic wines that you may have seen in your local wine shops. Besides the big spicy reds, Viña Ventisquero produces some beautiful white wines that pair well with a number of cuisines. We started off with some reds and ended with a high end chardonnay, which was unusual because in most tastings we start with the whites and end with reds. I was excited though, because I knew Felipe had an idea in mind that would transform the lunch into something pretty special.

IMG_5329Fried Pork Dumplings, Creamy Seafood Soup, and a Trio of Korean Pancakes came to the table as we tasted the 2013 Ventisquero Reserva and 2014 Grey GCM (Garnacha, Cariñena, and Mataro). The Reserva is 100% Pinot Noir from the Casablanca Valley, and is deep ruby-violet in color with aromas of fresh berries, vanilla, and some spicy oak aging. On the palate this wine has great acidity and is medium bodied with softer tannins, elegance, and a persistent finish. Only 15% of the wine was aged in oak for 10 months, which is why the oak is noticeable but not overpowering, making it a great pairing for the seafood pancakes and fried dumplings. The 2014 Grey GCM is an intense ruby color with a fresh nose of raspberry and currants. Earth comes through on the nose and follows through on the palate giving way to some pretty refreshing notes of ripe cherries and a striking acidity. This is a complex wine with high acidity, gentle tannins, and a long lasting finish thats beautiful with fried foods as well as the creamy seafood soup (yes, that pairing was a pleasant surprise). This wine is composed of 50% Garnacha, 25% Cariñena, and 25% Mataro and truly is a beautiful wine you can enjoy with meats, grilled vegetables, and on it’s own.

IMG_5334For those that have not had the pleasure of Korean BBQ, the meats and vegetables are cooked table side on a grill. This is a fun way to eat and enjoy the company you are with while cooking your food the way you want. Up next was a lot of meat and some salmon, which paired perfectly with the 2011 Vertice and the 2013 Tara Atacama Chardonnay. The Vertice is 53% Carménère and 47% Syrah planted in granitic soils with some clay content. On the nose this wine is fresh with notes of blackberry, earth, and pepper with hints of the granite soils that almost give the wine a graphite like aroma on the very end. On the palate this wine is bold and spicy with firm structure, medium acidity, silky tannins, and a long finish. When paired with the Korean BBQ steak, it was a match made in heaven! This wine needs a medium rare piece of meat, some grilled vegetables, or even a large pork chop as a pairing because it’s quite powerful and has a finesse that you will enjoy even more with food.

*Note: You could pair this wine with grilled fish, but be careful not to put too many sweet glazes or components with the fish as it may bring on an unwanted metallic note. I would personally go more of a grilled tuna steak or sea bass with this wine if you choose. 

IMG_5337The 2013 Tara Atacama is a high end chardonnay from the Ventisquero line. The grapes in this wine are crushed by foot and fermented with natural yeasts in stainless steel tanks (which preserve the fruit forward characters in wine). This wine is not clarified nor filtered and is well structured with fine sediment and unique characteristics. The Pacific Ocean plays a major role in this wine and the chalkiness and salinity really shine on the palate in this wine. Fruit forward, crisp, and elegant with mineral notes that reveal cucumbers, apricots, and white blossoms. When paired with the spicy seafood pancakes, creamy seafood soup, and fried dumplings, this wine was a winner, but I also enjoyed it with the grilled steak and salmon too; this white wine can certainly stand up to a medium rare steak any day of the week!

Chile has been producing wine since the mid 19th century and it’s time to take notice because these wines are available nation and world wide. The prices for these wines are similar to Spain in that they range from $10.00-25.00/bottle (+) and offer quality, finesse, and style at perfect price points. When it comes to Viña Ventisquero, I guarantee you can and will find a wine you will fall in love with.

Always remember to eat what you like and drink what you love… please pair responsibly!

Sara Lehman

About Sara Lehman

Sommelier, Private Chef, & Food and Wine Pairing Expert in NYC! Sara is a Wine Writer, Wine Ambassador, and Wine Consultant specializing in pairings, parties, entertaining and education.

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