Actually, “Bon jour” is more in order here. Today we’re talking about our experiment in pairing a couple more French wines with Hunter’s Stew.
To recap, we’ve been going through the fun and informative Wine Food & Friends to deepen our knowledge of wines and also how wines pair with food. Already there have been a few surprises – Riesling is actually quite delicious (and not overly sweet) and French wines tend to be very dry, earthy and flat (as opposed to superior, which I would have expected based on my experience with French foods).
I’m afraid this particular pairing of a Chateuneuf du Pape with Hunter’s Stew doesn’t do much for my opinion of French wine, except, perhaps, seal the deal on the fact that I don’t really like them. But I’m always open to changing my mind…
But first, let’s talk about the food. What the heck is Hunter’s Stew?
This is essentially a faster version of a glorious French dish known as Cassoulet. The classic is on the labor-intensive side*, requiring two or three days to make and a at least a few ingredients that you’re not necessarily going to find at the supermarket down the street. That said, I highly recommend making it at least once (and if you do, I recommend Anthony Bourdain’s recipe, mostly because I’ve made it and know that it’s delicious). This stuff is amazing. Truly. It’s amazing. I had no idea that beans could taste so wonderful.
The Hunter’s Stew from our wine pairing book was good, and certainly considering the much easier preparation, worth sampling. I did think, though, that the recipe was far too big, even for the number of people it was supposed to serve. I cut it down by half and we had this stuff on hand for days. It was good, but anything you have to eat for four days straight gets a bit tiring.
The recipe called for a Côtes du Rhône, and we substituted this dry red, which worked well for cooking:
Not highly drinkable (to our taste) but a fine wine for its intended purpose.
What was, unfortunately, disappointing was the Chateauneuf. I was pretty excited to try this one, partially because of its renown and also because it’s a great seller at work. I know popularity doesn’t always equal quality, but oftentimes, there is a reason a lot of people enjoy something. Not so much so in the case of this wine.
It did do better when paired with the stew. Our first sips sans dinner were, much like the other French wines we’ve tasted so far, very dry, very earthy and kind of flat. Drinking it with the Hunter’s Stew helped immensely. But, as my husband pointed out, even though the stew improved the wine, do you really want to buy a bottle of wine that requires a particular dinner to make it palatable?
My answer is “no” – I don’t. So I’m giving this one a pass. As with all things food-related, it’s very much a matter of taste. And each week we go on with this little experiment leads me closer to the conclusion that I’m a California lass at heart and just don’t really care for French wines.
Next week we’ll stop beating up on the French and find something that is more recommendable. In general, I like to keep things positive – I think it’s more helpful. Or at least, it’s a lot more fun!
Until next week!
Box Wine Rating Recap:
Chateauneuf du Pape
Paired with Hunter’s Stew (page 122 in “Wine, Food & Friends” by Karen MacNeil)