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Are you sipping comfortably?

THE Danish have an interesting concept called "hygge", a feeling of well-being, warmth, comfort or coziness. The traditional cuisine of Denmark has a lot of comfort food and is sometimes referred to as a buttery cuisine. Since Denmark is not a wine-growing country I'll pick two traditional Danish dishes and match them with "comfort wines" from elsewhere that contribute to the Danish feeling of hygge.

Herring is one of the most popular foods in Denmark and traditionally is pickled and served with dark rye bread. This is a challenging dish to pair with wine because of the sourness of the pickle juice and stimulating rye flavor that clashes with many wines. The solution is to choose a very fresh and acidic wine like a Spanish Viura or Albarino white wine. Next time you enjoy pickled herring, lovely companions would be the Beronia Blanco de Viura, Pazo Senorans Albarino or Martin Codax Albarino. These wines will not be overwhelmed by the tartness of the pickle juice or the rye bread and will act as pleasing palate cleansers.

A favorite Danish dish of mine is roasted pork with crackling. When done properly the meat is so tender and the skin so crispy. The meat is often served with another famous Danish favorite, au gratin potatoes. The first time I had this dish was on Christmas Eve in Taipei at a Danish friend's home. That evening we enjoyed a bottle of Chateau Lagrange 1990 followed by a bottle of Chateau Lafite 1990. Both wines were superb with the pork, the elegant dark fruit flavors embellished the natural sweetness of the meat and smooth creaminess of the potatoes while the tannins were the perfect foil for the wonderfully delicious yet greasy crackling. Other left bank Bordeaux reds that would go equally well but cost a lot less are Chateau Marbuzet, a hearty and tannic Cru Bourgeois from Saint Estephe, Chateau Bernadotte, a rich and flavorful Cru Bourgeois from Haut Medoc, and Chateau Timberlay Superieur, one of the best value Bordeaux wines.


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