Case for Wine

Made for each other: Wine pairings and more seafood soup recipes

Michael Weiss, professor of wine studies in the Table Service program at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, helps students appreciate different types of wine and spirits and their role in restaurants. Michael has 20-plus years of food-based experience, and he coauthored Exploring Wine: The Culinary Institute of America's Complete Guide to Wines of the World (Wiley, 2001). Michael pairs wines with our soothing winter soups.

Halibut, Sweet Potato, and Leek Soup
"Moshofilero [$15], by Boutari, is floral and has scents of tropical fruits. Although this is a dry wine, its fruitiness partners well with the natural sweetness of the ingredients. Vinho Verde [$8], by Quinta da Aveleda, is another low-alcohol choice with refreshing acidity and a light body."

Smoky Salmon-Clam Chowder
"I suggest a dry sparkling Brut from Iron Horse [$28]. The bubbles will cleanse the palate and highlight the flavors of the soup. A dry sherry, Manzanilla La Gitana [$10], from Bodegas Hidalgo, has the briny flavors to match those of the seafood. Both wines have enough texture to equal the richness of the soup."

Hearty Cioppino
"Caution! High-tannin reds combined with the healthy oils in seafood can cause an unpleasant taste―quite metallic. Light- to medium-body reds such as the Benziger Pinot Noir [$13], have the red fruit and acidity to complement those flavors in the tomatoes. A Moulin-à-Vent Beaujolais [$9], by Jadot, is a Gamay-based wine that will also balance out this hearty soup, and complement the zucchini and earthy spices."

Seafood-Sausage Gumbo
"The roux and spice of gumbos may conflict with the reds and overwhelm whites. Try a Spanish dry Rosé, such as Fuente Del Conde Tempranillo [$10], from Bodegas González Lara, or a Rosé Brut such as the Cristallino [$9] from Spain. If you can't find these wines and prefer those with a little sweetness to contrast the heat, try any California white Zinfandel."

Crab-Coconut Soup
"Organic-grown Lolonis Fumé Blanc [$13] uses the high acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc to complement the lemon grass in the dish and to cleanse the palate from its richness. Another cleansing wine with a spritzy quality is the Gavi Perlante [$18]. Lower alcohol content makes it a nice choice for dining alfresco."

Creamy Asparagus Soup with Lobster
"The implicit sweetness of the lobster and mineral flavors of the dish will be complemented by a Cave Spring Riesling or a Riesling from Dr. Frank [both about $15]. These delicate, cool-climate wines have high acidity to cleanse the palate. You could try another tactic by pairing rich and complex Chardonnays by Cakebread Cellars [$30] or Shafer [$40], to balance the richness."

Seafood-Sausage Gumbo
1 pound smoked sausage, cut into ½-inch slices
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
¾ cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups fish or chicken broth
2 cups sliced fresh okra
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (14 ½-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 pounds unpeeled, large fresh shrimp
1 pound fresh crabmeat, drained
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Hot cooked rice
Hot sauce (optional)

Cook sausage in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until browned. Remove sausage; reserve drippings in pan, and set sausage aside. Add oil to pan, and gradually whisk in flour. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until roux is the color of peanut butter (about 20 minutes). Stir in onion and next 4 ingredients; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring often. Gradually stir in broth. Stir in browned sausage, okra, and next 7 ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes. Uncover and simmer 15 minutes. Meanwhile, peel shrimp, and devein, if desired. Add shrimp, crabmeat, and parsley to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Serve over rice with hot sauce, if desired. Makes 18 cups.

Crab-Coconut Soup
Look for rice-flour noodles in Asian markets or in the Asian-foods section of your grocery store.
4 cups chicken broth
1 lemon grass stem, split lengthwise
3 ounces rice-flour noodles
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 (14-ounce) cans light coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1½ pounds cooked, flaked lump crabmeat
1 (14-ounce) can whole baby corn, drained (optional)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
½ cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add lemon grass; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. Remove and discard lemon grass. Meanwhile, boil rice-flour noodles until tender; cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces, and set aside. Add garlic and next 5 ingredients to chicken broth; simmer 15 minutes. Stir in rice-flour noodles, crabmeat, baby corn, if desired, and chives. Cook over medium heat just until thoroughly heated. Ladle soup into individual serving bowls, and sprinkle with peanuts. Makes 6 servings.

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