Food & Wine Pairing: Viognier

Viognier food and wine pairings insolence + wine

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It’s no secret that I am a big red wine drinker. Usually, if given the choice between white wine or iced tea, I’ll taste the iced tea—unless it’s Viognier. Back up, if it’s not a dry Viognier I’ll drink it. If you aren’t a regular wine drinker, you’re probably thinking ‘I bet she’ll drink anything you hand her.’ Not true, little grasshopper, not true at all. It’s been well established that I have a great dislike for Pinot Noir, except for this one. I’m picky about my Chardonnay and typically avoid Sauvignon Blanc because I don’t particularly enjoy it. Viognier is the one white wine I find myself reaching for year-round unlike everything else I’ve got stashed away. 

That's right my fellow heavy red drinkers, Viognier is a white wine you'll actually enjoy. It's full-bodied and it's awesome. Especially when it's extremely cold, right out of the refrigerator.

 If you’re looking for a lighter dish, this Raw Spiralized Thai Salad via  Strength & Sunshine  is perfect!

If you’re looking for a lighter dish, this Raw Spiralized Thai Salad via Strength & Sunshine is perfect!

It still surprises me how many people have not heard of or even tried Viognier, which is probably the most important white grape varietal ever grown in the Rhone Valley of France. Like so many other varietals, it can be produced in different styles ranging from bland and dry (pass!) and juicy and aromatic (yes, please!) The highest quality Viognier-based wines typically come from warmer climates such as California, the Rhone Valley and Australia. 

In a good bottle of Viognier, you can expect to find honeysuckle, and stone fruit aromas such as peach and apricot. Don’t let the fruit-aroma fool you: this is a full-bodied, extremely powerful and high-in-alcohol wine. In my eyes, Viognier is a sexy wine. It’s the kind of wine you’ll be proud to drink during a fancy black tie party while you’re being handed crab cocktails and things on toothpicks (my husband claims it even tastes good with pigs in a blanket, but I cannot confirm this).

It was the one wine I truly regretted not serving at my wedding.

It would have balanced and stood up against the salmon and vegetarian dishes we served. Since then, I’ve made sure to have Viognier on hand for most parties. I like to think of Viognier as Chardonnays classier sister. The sister no one is ashamed of knowing. The sister your friends enjoy hanging out with.

In my opinion, it is so important to be introduced to Viognier with a quality sampling. My first Viognier was not pleasant, it was flat, dry and largely unforgettable. Like all so-so first experiences, I wasn’t overly excited to try it again, and in fact, when I was eventually handed a glass of Viognier from Sculpterra, my hopes weren’t too high. What I found was an outstanding re-introduction to what is now my favorite white wine. It’s crisp and refreshing, perfect for a hot afternoon of chit chat out on your patio with a mango-based salsa and some fresh tortilla chips.

The thing about Viognier, it can stand up to spice. If you’re big on thai, mild curries, some Mexican cuisine (especially when there’s jalapeños involved, just no charred meat) and other dishes seasoned with aromatic spices. If you’re a fan of simplicity, grill up some chicken, make a simple peach salsa with a splash of Viognier to enjoy over your chicken. The peach aromas from the wine will really enhance the flavors of the salsa and compliment the chicken. Trust me. ;)

 Add a splash of tequila to bring out some of the truly unique flavors from viognier. Mango Habanero Salsa via  Flavor Mosaic

Add a splash of tequila to bring out some of the truly unique flavors from viognier. Mango Habanero Salsa via Flavor Mosaic

If you’re looking for a slightly more delicate and polished introduction to Viognier, I was thoroughly impressed with Penner-Ash. If you tend to be drawn toward pears and rose-petal jam, it is an absolute winner. I actually enjoyed this bottle with our New Orleans Style BBQ Shrimp last week.

Viognier’s from Rhone really have no comparison. This particular bottle is dangerous, simply because it’s incredibly smooth and showcases the characteristics you hope to find in a Viognier. It’s vibrant, rich and will be gone in the blink of an eye (in the right company of course.)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or just don’t read about wine, Justin is all the craze right now. With Justin Viognier, you can expect a very balanced wine and their Viognier is no exception. In fact, this is one of the wines we served for Friendsgiving dinner, as it paired nicely with so many of the aromatic spices we used to brine our turkey.

 These candied jalapeño bacon Viognier cupcake take the guesswork out of pairing. Recipe via  Goodie Godmother

These candied jalapeño bacon Viognier cupcake take the guesswork out of pairing. Recipe via Goodie Godmother

 

FOODS TO AVOID: vinaigrette dressings, overly acidic fruits (lemons) or citrus desserts in general, charred meats.

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Be sure to check out of Viognier Pinterest Board for more fabulous recipes to pair with crisp and refreshing Viognier. Which recipe will you be making?