"LIVE! LIVE! LIVE! Life's a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death"
attributed to Mame Dennis

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Recipe for Riesling, With Love.

These flavors love riesling.

Fresh, fragrant flavors like fennel and dill are among my favorites to pair with a dry Finger Lakes riesling. They bring out the herbal notes in the wine, highlighting its layers of flavor, so when I saw this recipe on Food & Wine's website I knew that the white wine in question had to be riesling.

It is a straight-forward recipe where the lamb chops are briefly marinated in garlic, lemon zest, fennel stalks and wine, then pan-fried. The bulb of the fennel is thinly sliced and dressed with a simple lemon vinaigrette. I also made garlic mashed potatoes to soak up the delicious pan sauce.

Lamb with white wine may seem an odd combination to some but, in fact, it's an excellent example of the concept of contrast in wine & food matching. It works because the sharp acidity of a crisp wine, such as a dry Finger Lakes riesling, cuts through the richness of the lamb. A wine like this cleanses your palate between bites, preparing it for more rich flavors, heightening them. In this dish, fennel salad serves a similar purpose.

I used local lamb from Windsong Farm in Burdett, along with local garlic and local rieslings, both in the marinade and in my glass. I loved how the fennel stalks and lemon zest were used in the marinade (no waste!), reinforcing the flavors in the fennel salad and the riesling. The garlic mashed potatoes provided a welcome earthiness.

Maybe you're devising your own riesling-friendly meal for Riesling Hour tomorrow evening. (I'd love to hear about it.) I hope you'll at least join me in raising a glass of Finger Lakes riesling. What better way to celebrate all this beautiful region has to offer?

No matter where you are tomorrow evening, open a bottle of your favorite Finger Lakes riesling. (Maybe two, it's hard to pick just one favorite!) Log on to Facebook or Twitter. Share your thoughts (and pictures!) about the wine you're drinking, along with the food and company you're enjoying with it. The best thing about wine is how it can bring people together. Cheers!