Pair It Up! Get Your Braise On

While the folks on the West Coast may already be sipping rosé on the patio, this morning I'm reminded by falling snow that Ontario still has a short stretch of winter to go. It must be for this reason that Bon Appétit Magazine's 30 Recipes to Get Your Braise On caught my eye. It's a selection of hearty and meaty recipes to keep you going on cold nights, like the Red Wine–Braised Short Ribs with Carrots—a classic recipe with savoury flavours of thyme, onions, carrots, and pancetta. The beef braises in a mix of red wine and tomatoes and it's a relatively simple amount of preparation before leaving the pot on the stove for four hours. At the end, the meat is served alongside a gremolata made from parsley, chives, garlic and orange zest.

Wine-braised recipes are a dream to pair with. A major flavour element of the dish comes from cooking the meat for four hours in a bottle of red wine. The bottle of red you feel like drinking with your short ribs should dictate the type of wine the meat is cooked in. If you have a special bottle of Northern Rhône Syrah from Côte-Rôtie you'd like to open, then make your cooking wine an inexpensive bottle of Syrah-forward Côtes du Rhône. By matching these wines, you'll be shocked at how well the flavours will sing together.

That being said, I do think grapes like Syrah, Grenache, or a Southern French style-blend will work so well with this dish—Amanda Hesser, who wrote the recipe knew as much when she recommended a 'Rhône variety' for the cooking wine. Syrah and Grenache often have intrinsic meaty characters, spice, pepper, and slight herbaceous or herbal undertones that will match the thyme and the green notes in the gremolata.

From the Okanagan, the Painted Rock 2012 Syrah packs all that savoury spice, pepper and meatiness. It's among the best bold-styled Syrahs in Canada. For something different, try Moon Curser's 2012 Dead of Night, a plumy and spicy blend of Tannat and Syrah that will also work very nicely. Kurtis Kolt is over in the Rhône Valley sipping on Syrah as we speak! Check out his recent post for more information and recommendations.


Jake Skakun is a writer and sommelier from Vancouver, currently living in Toronto. He can be found most days pulling corks and twisting caps at the Black Hoof. He Tweets and Instagrams @jakeskakun.

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