Drink like a sommelier: food and wine pairings for parties

Impress your guests/significant-other with classy appetizers and the wines to match, as suggested by a certified expert.

Claude Boileau is a certified sommelier. The following recommendations include commentary from Tom Dion (editor-in-chief of local food website Le Cuisinomane), “informed wine lover” Maxime Mckay and beer advisor Nicolas Lebel.

The dish: Apricot, leek and lemon oysters (click here for the recipe)

“What I love most about this recipe is that it’s really easy, and it’s also the perfect recipe to introduce oysters to someone for the first time — or to people who say they don’t like oysters.” (TD)

The beer: Long Nose IPA tropicale (Trois-Rivières, QC), Le Temps d’une Pinte, 473 ml, 6%, Colour SRM: 4, price: $4 to $5

“Long Nose is an IPA with a golden apricot colour and aromas of tropical fruits and pine. The taste reveals apricot, kumquat and peach flavours as well as a good dose of both piney and floral hops. A perfect balance between the West Coast style and a NEIPA, it is really drinkable at 6% alcohol. It pairs well with those oven oysters, given the contrast provided by citrus and apricot, as well as shell fish dishes.” (NL)

The wine: Ormarine, Les Pins de Camille (2017), Picpoul blanc, Languedoc, France, 750 ml, price: $13.20, SAQ code 00266064

“This fresh, vibrant white wine has nice touches of green apple, passion fruit and citrus, with balance and elegance, making it a perfect companion for oysters and seafood, given their saltiness and flavours of passion fruit and citrus. It’s a bargain at this price, and a pleasure to drink with the baked oysters, as well as the deviled eggs or smoked salmon starters (see below).” (CB)

The dish: Deviled eggs (click here for the recipe)

The wine: Sebastiani Sonoma County Chardonnay (2017), California, 750ml, $18.50, SAQ code 11089864

“Chardonnays are a go-to for many people and the Sebastiani  Sonoma county Chardonnay is a good bet. I was pleased to taste some yellow apple, citrus and apricot notes along with a subtly woody side that will complement truffle oil, while the acidity will contrast well with the mayonnaise.” (CB)

The wine: Crémant D’Alsace Brut Zéro Dosage (2015), pinot gris, auxerrois, chardonnay, pinot blanc and pinot noir, Alsace, France, 750ml, $26.30, SAQ code 10985851

“New Year’s Eve is synonymous with sparkling wines, but why wait for the countdown to indulge in bubbly? Barmès-Buecher has become one of my go-tos for Alsatian wines — they’ve been pioneers of biodynamic culture for almost 30 years. On top of its great mineral quality from the limestone soil where the typical grapes varieties for this type of wine are grown (pinot gris, auxerrois, chardonnay, pinots blanc and noir), there are also some hints of wild yeasts as they age for a minimum 16 months. This will go over really well with deviled eggs, providing a fine contrast to their creaminess.” (MM)

The dish: Smoked salmon blinis (click here for the recipe)

The champagne: Piper Heidsieck CuvéeBrut, pinot noir, pinot meunier, chardonnay and 20 per cent older wine, champagne a.o.c., France, 750ml,  $58.50, SAQ  code 00462432

“For champagne connoisseurs looking for something new, here’s one of my new favorites. I was surprised by its golden colour and quickly charmed by its freshness and fullness. With fresh fruit aromas and fine bubbles, it’s at once dynamic and complex.  A great blend of 50 per cent pinot noir, 30 per cent pinot meunier, 20 per cent chardonnay and 20 per cent older wine (which adds complexity and refinement). It’s a great pairing not only with the blinis, but also with the other appetizers mentioned here, because the acidity will counter the fat and the balance will be optimal. It also works well with parmigiano reggiano.” (CB)

Another champagne: Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve, Chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir, champagne a.o.c., France, 750ml, $63.25, SAQ code 10653347

“Another of my latest discoveries is Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve, a family-owned champagne house established in 1818! This is simultaneously fresh and elegant — it’s fruity, evokes white flowers and has fine bubbles, making it rich and full in the mouth. The blend of grapes is 40 per cent chardonnay, 35 per cent pinot meunier and 25 per cent pinot noir. As with the previous champagne, its acidity makes for a great pairing with the blinis as well as the oysters and deviled eggs. (CB)

The dish: Tourtière-stuffed potatoes (click here for the recipe)

“You can serve this either as an amuse-bouche or as a starter. An original way to avoid preparing a conventional tourtière for the fifth time.” (TD)

The wine: Ogier Héritages 2017, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Côtes du Rhône a.o.c., 750ml, $14.45, SAQ code 00535849

“Here is an interesting, ample yet easy to drink Côtes du Rhône wine, an explosion of red fruits with tannins that are almost silky. The mild spices of Ogier Héritages 2017 will pair well with the five spices in the veal. Bonus: this is once again great value for the price.” (CB)

Another wine: Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon (2017), California, 750ml, $20, SAQ code 10327630

“For those who really love their cabernet sauvignon, Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon is a solid alternative. Despite being more full-bodied than the previous wine, not to mention slightly woody,  it’s well suited to the tourtière potatoes but will go down even better  with a medium rare or rare beef bavette with caramelized onions — tannins and blood go together like peanut butter and jelly.” (CB)

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Bonus wine tips: Sparkling and white wines should be taken out of the fridge 15 minutes before serving for more expressive flavours while red wines should be refrigerated for 20 to 25 minutes before serving.

Cheers!