Upstate New York Meets North Central Florida
Recently I hosted some “winey” visitors from the Finger Lakes region of New York State, Scott and Ruth Osborn of Fox Run Winery. They drove down from the chilly climate to enjoy some Florida sunshine and to visit family and friends. They had a little free time to tour some of our stores, and since they were staying nearby, we chose my current hometown of Gainesville. The weather was perfect, but not too warm for my Northern visitors who basked in the sun like our ubiquitous Florida gators.
In between our store visits, where Scott shared some information about Lake Seneca and the incredible diversity of soil compositions in his vineyards, about their commitment to sustainability and about their very popular Garlic Festival, we decided on lunch. I thought a modern twist on classic Southern cuisine might be fun. We settled on a popular Gainesville restaurant, Southern Charm, and we couldn’t help but notice how well his upstate New York wines paired with some of their dishes. I beamed with pride when Scott said these were some of the best pickled collard greens he’d ever had, and that their okra and sherry tomatoes side dish would convert anyone to the ways of okra. Foodies know good food, and we recognize each other over it, very often accompanied by a glass of wine.
Considering the Fox Run wines that we carry, we came up with some exciting pairings that really worked well together. The Arctic Fox is a white wine based on the hybrid grape, Cayuga. Though, at its core it is a sweet wine, Arctic Fox is elegantly sweet and, unlike its Southern Muscadine relatives, Cayuga has none of that warm weather foxiness, showing instead a perfectly clean finish reminiscent of a dry Riesling. Southern Charm makes a Fried Green Tomato, Chèvre and Roasted Pepper Tart appetizer, and it paired perfectly with the Arctic Fox. The light acid cut through the fattiness of the puff pastry and mellowed the typical bite of the French goat cheese. The lemon zest notes and light minerality of the wine merged with the roasted pepper, balancing its smoky earthiness with a tart finish.
The second wine we carry from Fox Run is their Fox Run Semi-Dry Riesling, and with its extra hint of residual sugar, it can pair with all sorts of spicy dishes, including a Cajun Jambalaya or Spanish Paella. Because of Riesling’s inherent minerality, I find it a great wine to pair with sulfurous vegetables like cabbage or asparagus, or in this case pickled collard greens. The lightly sweet character of the Riesling played off the slightly bitter notes of the greens, and the minerality harmonized with the tart vinegar flavors from the pickling process. The Riesling also paired well with the okra and sherry tomatoes side. It had a hint of spice, which is always nice to balance with a hint of sweetness.
The third wine we had and one that ABC Fine Wine & Spirits will have on shelves soon is the Fox Run Reserve Chardonnay. It paired perfectly with Southern Charm’s “Pentecostal Fried Chicken,” truly some of the best Southern fried chicken I’ve ever had. The Reserve Chardonnay shows elegant use of oak that allows the fruit notes of the grape to come through with white peach and green apple, yet has a round mouthfeel. The buttermilk batter of this perfectly crispy fried chicken tugged at the buttery components we associate with Chardonnay, but with a soft touch. If you haven’t had a New York state Chardonnay, this is the one to try!
As you can see classic Southern dishes pair very well with Finger Lakes wines and foodies are foodies no matter where they are from, and we’re always willing to try something new and exciting. I look forward to experimenting further with these New York wines and some of my other favorite cuisines. Cheers!
Daniel Eddy – Wine & Spirits Sales Manager
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