I had a few friends over for dinner a few nights ago. After hors d’oeuvres but before the entree, I served my guests a glass of brut sparkling wine to harmonize with my hybrid Caesar salad.
Brut sparkling wine has that bone dryness and sharp acidity that harmonizes extremely well with the saltiness of Parmigiano-Reggiano and the stark bitterness of loads of raw garlic. The pairing was as close to perfection as a pairing can get! If you love anchovies in your Caesar dressing, the saltiness also nicely offsets the acidity in brut sparkling wine, as well.
It’s all about the dressing. I do a hybrid Caesar version using Renee’s Mighty Caesar dressing as my base. Then I add to this dressing 3 large cloves of minced garlic, the yolks of 2 eggs and ¼ cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. The dressing is so garlicky and good! The salad consists of romaine lettuce, fresh mushrooms and sweet onion slices. The pre made dressing has enough of the other ingredients, like lemon, so that I don’t need to add more. I serve a few hunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano on the side of the dish. This salad is always a hit amongst my guests.
As an aside, my first husband’s family (the Darlings) lived beside Renee Unger in North York. I practically lived at the Darling household too. I remember when Renee started the company in 1984. She would bring dressings over to the Darling household for all of us to sample and assess. We loved her dressings then and I still do today. I just like to add my own personal touch to pair the salad with sparkling wine and to please my non-tasting palate. (A non taster is someone with fewer taste buds who requires over-the-top flavours and spice to achieve palate satisfaction. A super-taster is someone with so many taste buds that almost no seasoning is required to enhance the enjoyment of food. A medium taster swings in between.)
If you cannot purchase Renee’s Mighty Caesar dressing, make your own homemade version. Here is a recipe:
1 ounce anchovy (approximately 2)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
10 ounces romaine lettuce
1 cup seasoned croutons
In a food processor, combine anchovies and garlic and blend to a fine paste. Add mustard, Worcestershire sauce, egg yolks. Slowly add olive oil, then lemon juice, vinegar and ½ the cheese.
Place the Romaine lettuce on the dressing mixture and toss, making sure to wet all sides of the lettuce leaves. Add croutons and the remaining parmesan cheese then toss lightly.
Back to Caesar salad and wine…
If you do not live in Ontario, Canada, then my suggestion is that you find a brut (bone-dry) sparkling wine with singing acidity to pair with your garlicky Caesar Salad.
Our Ontario wine regions produce incredible sparkling wines due to the terroir. During the growing season, cool nights attribute to the grape’s increasing acidity. These are ideal conditions for the production of delicious, crisp and refreshing sparkling wines, along with Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir, to name but a few.
From Lake Erie North Shore comes Colio Wines CEV Lily, (CSPC 618512), $17.95. This is a crisp rose sparkling wine with fabulous acidity that will nicely offset a big-garlic Caesar dressing. The wine has berry aromas and flavours with some yeasty character in support.
I paired the CEV Lily sparkling wine (white) with my Caesar salad to serve to my guests.
From Niagara comes Jackson-Triggs Methode Cuvee Close Sparkling VQA, (CSPC 217679), $14.95, a medium-bodied sparkling wine with citrus and yeasty notes on the nose and palate. It is also bone dry and idea for Caesar salad.
Henry of Pelham produces a more extravagant sparkling wine called Cuvee Catharine Brut Rose VQA, (CSPC 217505), $29.95. A more complex sparkling, Cuvee Catharine has cherry and floral notes on the nose and palate with lots of fine bubbles and refreshing acidity. Another great partner for Caesar salad.
From Prince Edward County comes Hinterland Whitecap 2012, (CSPC 332809), $22.00. You will have to obtain this wine from the winery. Apples and peach with a hint of honey comes through in the character, supported by yeasty tones, crisp acidity and a long finish. This is also a wine with enough character to stand up to the big flavours of hybrid Caesar salad.
If you enjoy wine pairing with food, then please check out my new line of Kindle cookbooks called
Wine Pairing Club Presents…
Category: EVERYTHING FOOD AND WINE