Do you need to follow a food and wine pairing rulebook? What wine-worthy aphrodisiacs should you add to your menu this Valentine’s Day? Does the classic romantic food, chocolate, have a perfect wine match you should try? Where does salinity in wine come from?
In today’s episode, I’m chatting with you about aphrodisiac wine pairings and salt in wine. You can find the wines I discussed here. Enjoy!
- What is the most important rule you should remember when choosing wine?
- Do you need to follow a food and wine pairing rulebook?
- What can history teach you about the rationale behind aphrodisiac foods?
- What were oysters first called aphrodisiacs?
- Why do you enjoy sparkling wines especially with oysters?
- Which high-zinc nuts were often prescribed to the love-sick and pair well with Sauvignon Blanc?
- Which berry has been called “natural Viagra”?
- Why is it hard for you to combine asparagus with wine?
- Can you successfully pair wine with asparagus?
- How will a bridging ingredient improve your asparagus experience?
- How should you pair soft cheeses with wine?
- What factors should you consider when pairing wine with strawberries and cream?
- Does the classic romantic food, chocolate, have a perfect wine match you should try?
- Why should you consider bacon as an aphrodisiac?
- If you taste some salinity in wine, where does it come from?
- Should you pay attention to the salinity of vineyard soil?
- Why shouldn’t you expect additives to be responsible for all of wines tasting notes?
- What do your taste perceptions with wine mean?
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The first rule is to pair the wine you love with yourself because there’s no sense in finding a perfect wine for oysters if you don’t like it. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
When it comes to soft cheese pairings, I think a buttery Chardonnay will work especially if you like to layer your richness – rich on rich – or you can try a steely Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc to cut right through the creamy richness. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
With strawberries and whipped cream, the classic at Wimbledon is Champagne but I think that’s a good way to kill your Champagne – it’s too sweet. If you’ve got a bubbly with some sweetness, sure, but I go with Icewine. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
The wine match depends on the amount of sugar and milk solids in the chocolate. The less of these, ie dark chocolate, the dryer the wine can be – like an Amarone. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
Bacon hasn’t been proven to stimulate sexual appetite but I’m nominating it as a potent aphrodisiac because I think there’s nothing sexier than someone cooking bacon for you and doing the dishes afterwards. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
Acidity, saltiness and minerality. Those three work together and it’s your interpretation of what you’re getting, what you perceive, what your tastebuds pick up. Your background as a taster is what’s going to come through in the wine. - Natalie MacLean Click to tweet
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Transcript & Takeaways
Welcome to episode 63!
Valentine’s Day is only two days away, so we’re going to have some fun pairing with aphrodisiac foods, from oysters to chocolate. Plus, I’ll chat about what it means when someone describes a wine as tasting salty. Is there really salt in wine, and how can you tell?
This conversation first aired on my regular Facebook live video show so you’ll often hear me responding to a comment one of the viewers has made. You can join that conversation every second Wednesday at 7 pm eastern, including this evening if you’re listening to this podcast on the day it’s published.
I’ll put a link in the show notes where you can find us tonight at nataliemaclean.com/63. It’s so much fun. We chat, we drink, we laugh, we drink some more. Pour yourself a glass and join us.
You can also join me on my free, online video wine class the 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!)?
Go to nataliemaclean.com/class and choose a time and date that work for you. I look forward to seeing you inside the class!
Okay, on with the show!
Let’s dive into our first topic: pairing wine with aphrodisiac foods that I hope spark a passionate discussion. We’ll be matching libido-lifting dishes with different wine types to stimulate all of your senses.
I believe that romance starts in the kitchen, not the bedroom.
The first rule is pair the wine you love with yourself. These are guidelines, I don’t call the hard-and-fast rules but I think the marriage of two different ingredients can lift you to a new cloud of sensual pleasure if you will. So if you have a chocolate dessert and you add a raspberry swirl, think about how those flavours mingle and you can do the same thing with food and wine when they interact well together.
Many ingredients have historically been considered aphrodisiacs, sometimes because the food physically resembled male private parts (avocados, which according to the Aztecs, grew on the testicle tree) to their female counterparts (oysters and figs).
Other foods, such as chili peppers, provoked the fiery passion of love, with its increased heartbeat and sweating.
Yet other foods may have contained minerals that increase energy, stamina and blood flow throughout the body (as well as to vital organs), such as Ginkgo Biloba.
Let’s chat about 8 matches, starting with:
Let’s start with oysters.
– The Ancient Romans called oysters an aphrodisiac based on promiscuous women gulping down lots of them. (They also thought the same of turnips so I’m not sure how much we can trust their guidance.)
– Casanova, that 18th-century Venetian lover ate 40 oysters a day for breakfast with his mistress in a bathtub built for two
– Oysters have vital minerals such as copper, iron and zinc, all of which are essential for male fertility.
So for our Oyster Wine Pairing, I’d go with a crisp, dry white wine or sparkling wine to cleanse the palate of the iodine, fishy taste. you can do that with a Sparkling wine like or just a crisp white, that’s going to be a beautiful palate cleanser with oysters.
– Pine nuts, like oysters, are also high in zinc.
– They’ve often been part of potions prescribed to the love-sick, but they work just as well in a pesto.
Pine Nuts Wine Pairing: sauvignon blanc works here as well, as does a zippy Pinot Grigio.
– Brazilian acai berry, called “natural Viagra”
– Acai is the the most concentrated botanical source of iron in the world, improving blood flow throughout the body.
– Tastes like chocolate and dark berries. it comes in powder and capsules but that’s not very romantic.
Acai Berry Wine Pairing: a full-bodied red with mocha and dark chocolate notes like an Australian shiraz or grenache.
– Those long green stalks are best served lightly steamed, and still firm, bathed in melting butter or a hollandaise sauce.
– They’re tough on wine due to natural organic compounds that make wine taste bitter
Asparagus Wine Pairing: a zesty herbal Sauvignon Blanc, especially those from New Zealand.
– Soft, creamy cheeses, such as camembert and brie, ooze sensuality when they flow like lava over a crusty piece of baguette and coat every crevice in your mouth.
Soft Cheese Wine Pairing: a buttery Chardonnay if you like to layer your richness, or a steely riesling or sauvignon blanc to cut through it as a contrast.
Strawberries and Whipped Cream
– Shape and texture come into play here again.
– This dessert is not as sweet and rich as chocolate, but it does require a medium to sweet wine that has citrus notes.
Strawberries and Whipped Cream Wine Pairing: Icewine
– Casanova also loved chocolate, drinking a cup of hot chocolate a day.
– Chocolate ignites similar positive endorphins to being in love.
– The wine match depends on the amount of sugar and milk solids in the chocolate: the less of these, the drier the wine can be, such as amarone and dark chocolate, which also has a higher concentration of cocoa.
– For milk chocolate, that’s sweeter with more milk solids, go for a richer, sweeter dessert wine such as port.
– Passionfruit caramels blend both the sharpness of the fruit and the toffee richness of the caramel. Try a tawny port.
– Yes, bacon. The smell of food can stimulate desire, as studies have shown that certain aromas increase blood flow to strategic areas (for men, pumpkin pie and lavender, and for women, cucumber and licorice). Conversely, those who lose their sense of smell also diminish their sexual appetite.
– So bacon hasn’t been scientifically proven, but I’m nominating it as one of the most potent aphrodisiacs on the planet: there’s nothing sexier in the morning when someone is cooking it for you (and doing the dishes afterwards).
Bacon Wine Pairing: A full-bodied red wine with a savoury, meaty note … and a very long finish!
Second topic: you often hear people talk about the salinity of, but is there really salt in wine?
Does the salt come from being close to the ocean, can briny breezes deposit sea salt on the grapes? Do we then taste it like the briny taste in oysters? Winemakers don’t think that iodine absorbed through the grape skins would make its way past fermentation.
Ir is it more from the water source for the wines, and what we’re really tasting or sening is the mineral content of the wine, much like the taste of whisky is influenced by it’s water source, or in fact mineral waters
A third theory is that the salty taste comes from various layers in the soil where the vines have thrust their roots. Too much salt in soil will prevent vines from growing in the first place, which is why they worry about that in certain regions of Australia where the water table has dropped and the soils are becoming increasingly salty.
Perhaps though we don’t need to be so literal as we often describe wine as having cherry flavours knowing that cherries weren’t added to the wine.
The soils for the best vineyards used to be covered by the ocean millions of years ago… limestone is the fossilized remains of sea creatures and of course there would be salt from the dried ocean bed
You can in fact measure the degree of salinity in wine, as you can for all liquids though that doesn’t always equate to how salty the wine may taste to you
Vines can absorb minerals, including salt from the soil, but that doesn’t mean they’re passed on to the wine
Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this chat.
If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it, especially someone who’s interested in the wine pairing tips I shared. You’ll find links to my wine reviews, the video version of the conversation and how you can join us on Facebook live next week for terrific wine chats in real time, and always with wine, in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/63.
Finally, if you want to learn why the lemon or butter test can guide you on wine pairings, join me in a free online video class at nataliemaclean.com/class.
You won’t want to miss next week when we’ll be chatting with Mike Veseth, known as The Wine Economist, and award-winning author and professor emeritus in Washington. He took an Around the World trip in Eighty Wines, Jules Verne style, to discover great value wines and the stories behind them.
Thank-you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a wine that pairs well with your favourite aphrodisiac dish!