There is a book entitled, “Red Wine with Fish,” but even that couldn’t have conceived of what we did last night. You are going to think the Guru has been tippling from too much of the VDLT inventory.
The in-house hunter/gatherers advised that I was cooking Pompano. Normally, we grill this delicious fish which has dense, oily white flesh. I was in the mood for something different. While searching for some inspiration, I came upon an article written by Dorothy Gaiter & John Beecher, longtime wine columnists for the Wall Street Journal. They mentioned an Italian restaurant in Miami at which they had Pompano baked in salt crust. The Italian manager suggested a Barolo along with it. They loved the pairing. Twelve cups of salt later, we were on it!
Since we were already heading down this rabbit hole, it was easy to double-down on the bizarre pairing concept. Shrimp cocktail were the prelude and we had several bottles of various Chianti Classico Riservas open from a tasting a few days prior. I rationalized that the cocktail sauce would be a suitable bridge from shrimp to Sangiovese. I don’t know if I’d do this again...but it wasn’t horrible.
The fish prep was fairly simple, although extracting them from the crust was time consuming and messy. The fish was less moist than the “control” one we did pan-fried but had a much more complex and deeper flavor. This made it a nice pairing with the Barolo. Keep in mind that while tannic, Barolo are not big or heavy wines.
I chose the 2013 Bosco Barolo Neirane because the wines from Verduno tend to be lighter. This young wine was reserved but very dignified. The tannins are evident but good natured. Right now, this is more about structure than fruit but in time, this will be a brilliant Nebbiolo - and we enjoyed our bottle thoroughly.
Incidentally, it is customary to think that decanting a young wine like this is best. But once a wine sheds its youthful exuberance, exposure to air can cause it to shut down. In this case, I was glad I served it immediately upon opening and finished it within an hour.