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September 19, 2010

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Comfort wines for Danish fare

DENMARK is a not a wine-growing country but the Danish have developed an interesting concept of "hygge," which means something like a feeling of well-being, warm, comfortable or cozy.

The traditional cuisine of Denmark has a lot of comfort foods and is sometimes referred to as a buttery cuisine.

In this week's column I'll pick two traditional Danish dishes and match them with "comfort wines," wines 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 in Shanghai, lovely companions would be the Beronia Blanco de Viura, Pazo Senorans Albarino or Martin Codax Albarino.

Both wines will not be overwhelmed by the tartness of the pickle juice or the rye bread and will act as pleasing palate cleansers.

One of my all-time favorite Danish dishes is roasted pork with crackling.

When done properly the meat is so tender and the skin, also referred to as crackling, is so crispy.

The meat is often served with another famous Danish favorite au gratin potatoes.

The first time I had this dish was actually on Christmas Eve in Taipei at a Danish friend's home. That evening we first enjoyed a bottle of Chateau Lagrange 1990 then a bottle of Chateau Lafite 1990.

Both wines were superb with the pork as 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 right bank Bordeaux reds in Shanghai 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 wines of Bordeaux.

This trio of French reds along with the pork and potatoes will deliver an authentic Danish experience of hygge!


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