I came to wine via the restaurant business and even have a degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America. So I approach food-and-wine pairings like many chefs, by picking the wine and then cooking accordingly. It might sound complicated, but I’ve got the process down to three easy steps.
Step One: Taste the wine. Last weekend, I opened a bottle of Domaine Bois de Boursan Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2007. Although made in a traditional style, the wine was dense, with notes of cassis and plum sauce, all backed by complex layers of game, brick dust and garrigue, the aromatic underbrush indigenous to southern France.
Step Two: Rummage through the fridge. With Châteauneuf on my mind, I grabbed some leftover steak and field greens, but with such a rich wine I knew I needed more flavors in my dish. For the dressing, I mixed Greek yogurt with balsamic vinegar, which shares a similar reduced quality with the wine. Then I added some sliced shallots and winter radishes, which echoed the herbaceous undertones of the garrigue notes. Finally, my secret ingredient—plenty of kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, because an expressive wine needs an expressive salad.
Step Three: Dinner time! Most salads would wither under the weight of a Châteauneuf, but with steak, balsamic, shallot, radish and liberal amounts “S&P,” as chefs call it, this salad was a notable match. I rated the wine 92 points, non-blind, and it retails for $52.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Domaine Bois de Boursan Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2007 92, $52).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Châteauneuf-du-Pape reds.