What to DRINK With That: Comfort & Cleanse


L-R: Carmen Parry, Neil Ingram, Stephen Bonner


What to DRINK with That

DRINK editor Treve Ring asks local wine experts how they would approach pairing dishes and flavours. For this new year edition, we are pairing to COMFORT & CLEANSE.


Our Experts:

Stephen Bonner (SB)
General Manager, Sommelier, BierCraft

Stephen is diploma graduate of WSET, former OIddbin’s manager in London and a graduate of Terrance Conran’s Butlers Wharf Chef School in restaurant management. He has been the sommelier for Waazubee Café, Kitsilano Daily, and the Daniel Group. He is currently GM of BierCraft Restaurants and creator of the BC corkage fee blog www.bccorkagefees.blogspot.com.


Neil Ingram (NI)
Wine Director and co-owner of Boneta restaurant

This curious and thirsty fellow has been an avid member of Vancouver’s wine community since 1996, when he returned home to help his friend Andrey Durbach open Etoile Restaurant. It was there with Andrey and Barb Philip he began to turn away from the stage and fall in love with the grape. From 1999 to 2006 he ran the wine program at the storied Lumiere restaurant and later its rambunctious child, Feenies. In 2007 he opened the pioneering Gastown spot Boneta. He was named Sommelier of the Year by his peers in 2008 and continues to judge, consult, taste and opine whenever there’s a free moment.


Carmen Parry (CP)
Sommelier, The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa

Carmen started her food and beverage journey at the Hotel Grand Pacific in 2003 as a banquet server while she attended college. During her tenure there she began studying and appreciating wine, and completed her Sommelier Diploma through the International Sommelier Guild in 2009.  Carmen was promoted to Assistant Restaurant Manager at the Hotel Grand Pacific, where she continued her career in wine, assisting with compilation of the wine list and continuing with a program highlighting sustainable wines. Presently she is the Sommelier at the Westin Bear Mountain, where she can be found hosting an informal tasting series on Friday nights and continuing to develop the wine program.


What to DRINK with:

COMFORT : Fried chicken with yeasted semolina waffle, ham and clover honey

SB. Chicken is a blank canvas for both red and white wine. To bridge the flavours of the clover honey, inherent sweetness of the ham, and the textural element of the waffle I’d recommend a Chenin Blanc  preferably an off dry “Moelleux”  style from France’s Vouvray, Coteaux du Layon, or Quarts de Chaume appellations, or South African oak influenced Chenin Blanc. The honeyed quality of an aged French Chenin with its balancing acidity makes it a perfect foil to this dish with the rare combination of contrasts and compliments. The floral and rice pudding quality of an oak influenced South African Chenin complements the chicken and waffle.

NI. Bottled autumnal sunshine is the most comforting thing ever, with the possible exception of fried chicken. Together can they do no harm. My favourite sun with that chicken would be a lovely & juicy off-dry Loire Chenin Blanc: a Vouvray or Savennieres would work a treat with the juicy flesh, ham and honey, the underlying acidity of the grape running herd on the richness. A nice alternative, as always, would be a big, round Spatlese-level Riesling from the Rheingau.If red is called for something light, bright, fruity and with a gentle slap to balance its tickle: a good Cru Beaujolais  from 2010 or a pretty Lange Nebbiolo from 2009. And, if you’re feeling decadent, chicken, waffles and champagne never did no one wrong.

CP. This definitely calls for wine with good structure and acidity to cut through the fat and salt of the meal.  A rich, dry Riesling from Alsace is my top pick.  Flavours of peach, grapefruit and lemon, as well as, the ripe, juicy acidity will really enhance the meal.  I would also love to pair this dish with sparkling wine.  Sparkling wine has too often been kept only for celebrating, but the yeasty flavours, acid structure and delicate bubbles make it an amazing food wine. Champagne would be absolutely divine with the fried chicken and waffles.



CLEANSE : Avocado and tofu salad with dark sesame oil, scallions and lemon juice.

SB. Although a simple sounding dish this salad has complexity and layers of flavours. The perceived neutral flavour of tofu is enhanced by its umami qualities when married with sesame oil. This dish cries out for a pungent new world Sauvignon Blanc preferably from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. The zesty acidity of the wine balances the lemon juice and the pungent gooseberry, passion fruit, nettle, and capsicum notes contrast the rich earthiness of the sesame, avocado, and umami. Chilean Casablanca Valley Sauvignon Blanc is another option with a similar flavour profile to New Zealand.

NI. Isn’t asking for the best cleanse wine like asking for the best road-trip beer? It’s a mixed message at the best, but hey, at least nobody gets hurt on the cleanse-cheat.

A nice Australian Semillon would fit the bill well. The lemon and sesame oil would play well with it and the texture of the avocado and tofu would flesh out the wine too. Plus it’s usually lower in alcohol so you won’t feel bad about having that nip of Tequila on the side.

CP. The rich, creamy texture coupled with the zesty dressing lead me in many directions. Fruity and floral, aromatic wines are a great match for this salad.  The ability of the wine to refresh the palate from the smooth, creamy texture of the avocado is important to consider when pairing this dish.  A Chenin Blanc from the Okanagan Valley, with flavours of quince and beeswax, fresh and crisp, yet honeyed and bursting with flavour, would be a wonderful match.

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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