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Wine Pairing for Cioppino

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I'm hosting a dinner party at the end of the month featuring Cioppino as the main course. The dinner was purchased at our Rotary auction and I wrote in the description that the dinner would feature fabulous wines. Now that I've said that, I definitely need help choosing the right wine(s). Some would recommend a white wine, but the cioppino is tomato-based and spicy with fennel and a pinch of saffron. Also, most everyone on the guest list prefers red over white. The price point is also a consideration, perhaps in the $15-20 price range. Is it even possible to get "fabulous" wine for that much? I would appreciate your help with recommendations. Thanking you all in advance. PK

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post #2 of 20
First thought for red is a Rioja from Spain, enjoyed Rioja Vega 2006 with a Vera Cruz Snapper dish recently.
Pretty much my go to red is California Zinfindel and feel this dish would stand up to it?
For a white, I am just getting into Rias Biaxas, also from Spain, very nice with the spices here. But still love my Sauv Blancs.
So many wines, so--you know the rest---
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the recommendations

I plan to do a run-through next weekend with a small batch of cioppino and a tasting of your recommendations. Any idea of what the price point is? I haven't decided what to do for dessert yet therefore no decisions on dessert wines or after dinner liquors. Thank god these people have already made arrangements for a designated driver!
Thanks Nan. PK
post #4 of 20
Not sure how our prices compare?? There seem to be Riojas for under $20.
I usually go with Ravenswood Zin at around $13-14, Several good Zins in that nieghborhood.

The Spanish white is around $17 here. I really enjoy Sterling Vineyards Sauv Blanc for around $13. There are some excellent ones from Chili and New Zealand for less.

I love Cioppino! Need to work in into my menus, great for using bits of fish and shellfish.

Have a great party!!!
post #5 of 20
You need something that will compliment the tastes of the stew. You want something juicy but without too much young fruit. Something essentially light, but still with good mouth feel.

Cioppino is as much a California dish as it is Italian, because of the communities of Itialian fishermen on the coast -- Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco to name a few. In fact "cioppino" as such is probably entirely California-Italian. If it was straight Italian it would be called zuppa de pesce.

The varietal of choice here, as well as my recommendation, is Pinot Noir. Indeed, Pinot Noir is probably the red varietal most often recommended with fish. Here are a few California Pinots within your price range, each qualifying as "spectacular:"

First: Frei Brothers (2003)
Second: Byron Vineyards (2001)
Third: Acacia (2002)
Fourth: Wild Horse (2003)

If you can't find any of these, or the prices have risen beyond your range, I'd look for Pinots from other California wineries such as Beaulieu, Chateau St. Jean and Mirassou -- and from Oregon wineries as well.

A Chianti Classico would also be a good choice.

Personally, if I were going with a red, I might stay more on the simple, inexpensive side rather than looking for "spectacular." Had I promised spectacular, and if it were my dinner, I'd seriously consider a rose sparkler like Chandon Estates Rose Brut. Schrammsberg or Gloria Ferrer would be better if you can find either in your range.

With respect to shipscook, neither Riojas nor Zinfandels partner well with fish, with fish stews, or tomato based fish stews. Too rich.

Good luck,
post #6 of 20
I had a bottle of First: Frei Brothers (2003) this weekend and enjoyed it.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 

Rose Sparkler w/hors d'oeuvres?

Speaking of Rose Sparkler, would that be too much to serve with hors d'oeuvres? I'm planning mixed olives with lemon & thyme, petite gougeres w/cheese & chives, and.....something else tbd later. The last time I did this dinner, guests had their choice of Prosecco or Campari Soda. I also had available (behind the scenes) full bar and variety of wines if requested.

post #8 of 20
PK -- Your appetizers have enough going on to partner a rose sparkler. That having been said, they could live with anything -- red, white, flat, bubbling that wasn't too sweet. Heck, last years aperitifs had me thirsty. You might consider sweeping your way around the Med and adding a chilled Fino and a good Turkish or Lebanese Arak.

Arak is, more or less, another name for ouzo, pastis, etc. However, the subtle differences are all on arak's side. It's the traditional drink with appetizers all around the Mediterranean. Why fight it? A little arak in the glass, about three times the amount in water; and only then the ice. Then swirl for a nice, milky color. This is called louching. Louching has some rather louche connotations, which only makes it more fun.

This is the time of year we unpack the mojito and sangria recipes for group entertaining. We make our mojitos light enough for the ladies to drink all night without much effect, and our sangria sneaky strong. Both as it should be.

Love Campari soda,
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks again for the recommendations

I went with a pinot although I couldn't find the specific vintages you suggested. I went with a 2006 Acacia and a 2006 Wallace Brooks from Willammette, both very nice. I also served Gloria Ferrare champagne with the hors d'oeuvres. In addition to the olives and gougeres I added a couple of Italian cured meats and peppardews filled with a creamcheese/pinenut mixture.

The cioppino was probably the best I've ever made! Clams, prawns, scallops, red snapper, dungeness crab, and lovely king crab claws on top for garnish.
Ceasar Salad and grilled sourdough slices with garlic and olive oil rounded out the meal. We finished with a lemon tart garnished with whipped cream and fresh blackberries and lemon zest.

I admit to feeling a bit puny this morning and am ever so grateful to my husband who did all the dishes and is hand-washing all the glassware at this very moment. I think I need a nap.

post #10 of 20
PK, what a lovely menu!! Each dish sounds great and the dessert a perfect ending.
thanks for posting,
post #11 of 20
Yes, sounds lovely. Glad we could help. BDL
post #12 of 20
I tried the Byron Vineyards (2001) and i have to say that i loved it! The dinner was a bit more "casual" than pkgigharbor dinner party, but i have to say that my husband and i had a great time and really really enjoyed the pinot! :)
post #13 of 20
I like that one too:)
post #14 of 20
great drinking
post #15 of 20
Glad you guys liked the wines.

post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hey Boar d laze...I was hoping you would share your recipe for mojitos. I know the ingredients are simple: Rum, mint, lime juice, simple syrup, soda -but in what proportion?

My mint has gone wild and I need to step up the pace to take full advantage of it.

post #17 of 20
PK -- Yes, but I'll start a separate thread in Recipes called "Summer Coolers." Sounds like too good a topic to keep to one drink.
post #18 of 20
Thread Starter 

Summer Coolers

BDL...You mentioned Sangria earlier so if I'm not asking too much, would you include that as well? I'm always looking for summer cocktails that I can make by the pitcherful.
Thanks in advance.
post #19 of 20
Will do. Writing drinks recipes might have to wait until the end of the week though.

I don't know if I should "your welcome" the thanks, or thank you for asking me. It's very flattering.

post #20 of 20
Thanks PK, and to all the wonderful comments. My dinner party tomorrow evening consists of grilled Zucchini with Parmesan, Caesar Salad, Cioppino, and Panna Cotta laced with Chambord.

Was considering Kir Royale with the Zucchini. Too sweet? Will definitely go with a Pinot Noir with the Cioppino.

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