By Bill St. John, Special to Tribune Newspapers
October 31, 2012
One classic wine and food combination — so classic, it helps define the word — is port and blue cheese. Even those enamored of neither agree that, when combined, magic happens: vanilla creamlike flavors emerge that simply make the palate swoon.
Furthermore, the wine tastes less sweet; the cheese, far less salty. This alchemy is difficult to explain, but it occurs. Keep in mind that a salty dish isn't merely ameliorated by a wine with sweetness. It's transformed. But the key is to balance the saltiness level of the food with a correlative level of sweetness in the wine. In this dish, each a tad.
The food: Chili-soy shrimp stir-fry
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in wok or large skillet on medium-high heat. Add 3 cloves garlic, minced; cook, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Add 1 pound large shrimp, shell-on; stir-fry, 30 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon each mushroom soy sauce and Asian chili paste and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, tossing with shrimp to coat well. Stir-fry until the shrimp are just cooked through and the sauce ingredients have thickened slightly to glaze the shells, 3-4 minutes. Makes: 4 servings
2011 Fess Parker Riesling, Santa Barbara, Calif.: Solid cool-climate riesling, with requisite white fruit-citrus core; whiplash acidity balances slight sweetness. $14
2010 Yalumba Riesling Y Series, South Australia: A happy blend of warmer region tropical fruit notes with cooler region citrus; whisper of sweet; bracing acidity; great value. $11-$12
2011 Loca Linda Torrontes, La Rioja, Argentina: Effusive in both aromas and flavor; get to know torrontes; it is the ultimate happy wine; this one ever so slightly sweet. $15-$17 (1 liter)
— Bill St. John, special to Tribune Newspapers