Pickling and Pairing Tips

Pickles have made a culinary comeback: Here’s how to make them and pair them with wine.

What’s the dill-io with the culinary world’s pickling obsession? Once a simplistic, sweet-salty topping, relegated to the sandwich sidelines, the humble pickle has truly gone gourmet. From farmers’ markets to fine dining restaurants and even cocktail bars (hello, picklebacks!), you can’t miss the pickle’s recent surge in popularity.

Wine lovers are in on the pickle craze, too, despite that pairing wine and pickles can be tough because of their equally high-acid levels. It’s helpful to keep in mind the herbs and spices used in the brine and the sweetness level of the pickled ingredient when selecting a wine. Versatile rosés and Rieslings are go-to pairings for a variety of recipes.

Pickled Louisiana Shrimp

louisiana-shrimpSince New Orleans is a seafood lover’s paradise, it’s no surprise to see pickled shrimp pop up on menus, like Chef Lopez’s pickled Louisiana shrimp and shrimp-stuffed eggs, served at his trend-focused Warehouse District restaurant. Eaten on their own, these quick-pickled shrimp make a delicious, wine-friendly starter.

Proprietor and General Manager Maximilian Ortiz likes to pair ROOT’s Louisiana pickled shrimp with Les Chataigniers 2012 Sancerre. “The wine’s crisp acidity and mineral notes are a wonderful complement to the quick-pickled shrimp,” says Ortiz.

 

Pickled Pineapple with Habanero, Mint and Basil

pineappleThis pickle recipe manages to be sweet, spicy and refreshing all at the same time, getting heat from habaneros and a cool kick from mint. At this hot spot, all pickled dishes—like Brussels sprouts with garlic and dill, or mangos with allspice and lime—are served in jars.

Beverage Director Jamie Felber suggests a rosé to match with the pickled pineapple, specifically the light and fruity Moulin De Gassac 2011 Guilhem Rouge from Pays d’Hérault in the Languedoc. “It’s Grenache based and has simple but pleasant, ripe red fruit characteristics with a touch of rose petal,” says Felber. “The wine would serve mostly as a refreshing foil to the dish rather than an accent to any particular flavors.”

 

Pickled Green Strawberries

green-strawberriesPickled green strawberries were arguably this year’s “it” pickle—and star in this St. Louis restaurant’s foie gras torchon dish, though Chef Nashan also pickles some other fascinating food items, including walnuts and lardo.

Chef/Owner Nashan recommends pairing the pickled strawberries with a Jackson-Triggs Vidal Icewine from the Niagara Peninsula in Canada. “The sweetness of the icewine balances out the high acidity and tartness of the pickled green strawberries,” says Nashan. “Being so young, the strawberries also have a vegetable-like quality, and the wine has similar grassy notes, which makes for a perfect pairing.”

 

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