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Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

I am trying to pair a savory food item with some very unique Angelica Port. It comes from our 100-year-old Mission grapevines and is fortified with Mission grape brandy. It’s very high in alcohol, with notes of caramel, nuts and a touch of dried fruit. I would like to do a more unique pairing. I am open to a cheese pairing, but I want to kick it up a bit. So far feta has worked really well with it. I am thinking of adding a smoked meat. Thoughts?

—Jennifer H., Placerville, Calif.

Dear Jennifer,

That’s a tough one—the alcohol and sweetness in that wine would threaten to overwhelm most dishes, unless the dish has some sweetness itself to balance things out. I think you could take the idea of a cheese plate and turn it into a pasta dish. Port and blue-veined cheeses tend to go very well together—how about a blue cheese stuffed in tortellini, served with a sweet sauce of some kind, perhaps one made with a reduction of the Angelica Port? I would also experiment with a stuffed pork loin with a dried-fruit stuffing, and, again, a sauce on the sweet side.

I also ran your question by senior editor Harvey Steiman, who I always look to for food advice, and he said, “Another thought is the popular ‘miso-glazed black cod,’ which is a rich and sweet sauce on a rich fish (actually sablefish, not cod). Do a test run and make sure the sauce is sweet enough to balance the wine.”

—Dr. Vinny


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