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Virginia Wine and Food Pairings For Any Occasion

By MARK OSWELL

Everyone remembers certain micro-events in their lives, getting a driver’s license, a first kiss, a specific New Year’s Eve.

For me, I still remember the first time I truly enjoyed a glass of wine. It was 1988 at one of Napa Valley’s many wineries. I knew I was learning to appreciate wine, as I remember it was as much about a day of wine tasting with friends as it was about the actual glasses of wine.

From that spring day many years ago my appreciation towards the numerous varietals of grapes and the wine culture has expanded and matured into a bold fully appreciation.

Since those initial tasting at the Beringer and Peju wineries, I’ve experienced hundreds of wines at tastings from Washington to Connecticut, and from New Zealand to Greece. These tastings and the numerous bottles I’ve enjoyed have led me down the path to be become a true wine enthusiast.

And while some of my friends have on occasion referred to me as a “wino” or the “wine expert” – and every so often a “wine snob” – none of these are true. I’m definitely not a sommelier; I just know what I like. This appreciation has led others to feel as though I’m some kind of “connoisseur,” asking me questions like: “What’s a good wine to eat with fish?” or “What’s a good wine to give as a gift?” “What’s my favorite winery?” etc…

While some pairing are no brainers, like a chilled Viognier with spicy foods, I thought I’d delve into some of my favorite pairings that I’ve discovered from Mid-Atlantic wineries.

Some of these pairings align with the traditional pairings – such as with cheese or with steaks – while others are paired with the seasons or the undertones of the mood I’m in.

These are just my preferences from my tastings and my personal notes. I hope some of you venture out to grab a bottle and give one of these pairings a swirl, but I also encourage each of you to find your own perfect pairings.

Even though I have been to each of the wineries I’ve mentioned, I realize that I’ve only scratched the surface of all the Mid-Atlantic wineries. Entering 2011, I look forward to finding new wineries, tasting unique blends and sharing a bottle of wine with interesting people – from the shores of Delaware to the mountains of North Carolina.

Cheers and have fun coming up with your own pairings!

Cheese, Crackers and Cold Cuts

Mandolin                                    Doukenie Winery                                    Purcellville, VA

Vidal Blanc                                 Hume Winery & Vineyards                  Hume, VA

Seyval Blanc                               Banner Elk Winery                                 Banner Elk, NC

Perfect Pizza Wine

Rockford Red                                 Rag Apple Winery                                Boonville, NC

Cornucopia                                    Valhalla Vineyards                               Roanoke, VA

Chambourcin                                 James River Cellars                              Richmond, VA

Grilled Meats

Alouette Cabernet Franc            Three Foxes Vineyards                        Delaplane, VA

Malbec                                            Pearmund Cellars                                  Broad Run, VA

Maestro                                          South Creek Vineyards & Winery      Nebo, NC

Pasta Night

Sangiovese                                    Valhalla Vineyards                                   Roanoke, VA

Syrah                                             Shelton Vineyards                                    Dobson, NC

Spicy (Thai, Mexican, Asian)

Viognier                                    Sunset Hills Vineyard                              Purcellville, VA

Viognier                                    Chester Gap Cellars                                Front Royal, VA

Villa Wolf Gewurztraminer        Barrel Oak Winery                                   Delaplane, VA

Seafood (Fish, Shellfish)

Vindal Blanc                                    Willowcroft Farm Vineyards                        Leesburg, VA

Chardonnnay                                   Delfosse Vineyard and Winery                    Faber, VA

Chardonnay (Reserve)            Veritas Vineyard and Winery                      Afton, VA

Grilled Poultry

Chardonnay                                    Wintergreen Winery                             Roseland, VA

Opal                                               Hillsborough Vineyards                        Purcellville, VA

Viognier                                    Tarara Winery                                       Leesburg, VA

Cajun Fare

Equation Merlot ‘X’                       Breaux Vineyards                                    Purcellville, VA

BowHaus Red                                Barrel Oak Winery                                    Delaplane, VA

Norton                                          Rappahannock Cellars                        Huntly, VA

Chocolate

Dark Shadow                                Shadow Springs Vineyards                       Hamptonville, NC

Petit Verdot                                  Potomac Point Winery                        Stafford, VA

Monticello                                    Stone Mountain Vineyards                        Dyke, VA

Dessert in a Glass

Vintage Port                           Horton Vineyards                                    Gordonsville, VA

Hope’s Legacy                        Horton Vineyards                                    Gordonsville, VA

Evening Sunset                       Rag Apple Lassie Vineyards                    Boonsville, NC

And for those less traditional pairings, I recommend the following:

Warming up by the fire on a cold winter’s night

Holiday                                    Clover Hill Vineyards and Winery            Breinigsville, PA

Othello                                     Veritas Vineyard and Winery                   Afton, VA

Cabernet Franc                        Rebec Vineyards and Winery                   Amherst, VA

Savoring a smooth cigar

Heritage                                    Keswick Vineyards                                   Keswick, VA

Ameritage (Reserve)                  Pearmund Cellars                                    Broad Run, VA

Norton                                       Horton Vineyards                                    Gordonsville, VA

Entertaining out-of-town guests

Chambourcin                                    Corcoran Vineyards                                    Waterford, VA

Claret                                                First Colony                                                Charlottesville, VA

Ruby                                                AmRhein Wine Cellars                        Bent Mountain, VA

Picnicking in the mountains

Viognier                                    White Hall Vineyards                                Crozet, VA

Chardonel                                     James River Cellars                                  Richmond, VA

Sarah’s Patio White                       Chrysalis Vineyards                                 Middleburg, VA

Relaxing at the beach

Our Dog Blue                            Chateau Morrisette                              Meadows of Dan, VA

Skipjack                                    Linganore Wine Cellars                        Mount Airy, MD

La Belle Vie                               Potomac Point Winery                        Stafford, VA

Enjoying the company of friends

Cabernet Franc                        Afton Mountain Winery                        Afton, VA

Sarah’s Chapeau                      Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn            Delaplane, VA

A6                                            Cardinal Point Winery                        Afton, VA

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