French fries, gravy, and cheese curds — poutine is the very definition of comfort food. Everyone’s got their favourite recipe or killer combination of extra ingredients, but when it comes down to it, poutine is as quintessentially Quebecois as Guy Lafleur, Celine Dion, or Mordecai Richler.
Poutine can run the gamut from quick and dirty (figuratively speaking) to white-tablecloth fancy, and if you think it’s not prime for wine pairing, well, think again.
Let’s start with a basic poutine recipe — this one from Thermador is as good as any. The salty, savoury notes from the fries and gravy combine with the bite of the cheese curds to produce a flavour and texture experience that’s just perfect. The Wild Goose 2012 Pinot Noir comes from the Okanagan Falls area of the Okanagan Valley, and delivers dried cherry, raspberry, and herbal/savoury notes, along with a splash of acidity and light tannins that will work well with this classic poutine.
For something with a little more kick, check out this recipe for pulled pork poutine with baked potato fries. The pulled pork adds a hearty, rich element and even more texture to an already-decadent dish, and the baked potato fries add a home-style component that’ll knock your socks off.
For a wine, you’ll need something heavier than Pinot Noir — say, the Lakeview Cellars 2012 Syrah Reserve. It’s not as inky black and dense as some other Syrahs, but this Niagara-On-the-Lake red brings herbal, ripe cherry, leather, blackberry, and caramel notes that will do well with the pulled pork component of this poutine.
Want to go a little rogue on your poutine? Try this Thai-inspired poutine recipe. It still features cheese curds, but in this case, they're on top of sweet potato fries and with a curry-driven gravy as well as crispy-skin chicken thighs.
There’s plenty of spice here, but overall the ingredients indicate that a red wine wouldn’t cut it. But the super-fresh Bench 1775 2014 Gewürztraminer is your secret wine weapon for pairing with this out-there poutine. The wine brings intense spice, peach, tangerine, ginger, apricot, and lychee – all in a mostly dry, crisp palate.
Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson.