So, it’s Saturday night, your friends need to use up some mahi mahi, and you are without dinner plans. What do you do? Make ceviche and mess around with wine pairings!
Not only was this an excuse to hang out with my good friends, Brett and Emily, it was a perfect opportunity to transition to summer eating with the bright, light freshness of ceviche. It was also a terrific opportunity to explore some wines to complement summer meals. Not to mention that our winter was so long in Calgary this year we just couldn’t wait to channel some summer vibes!
We explored two wines with Brett’s stellar ceviche (see recipe below!), a dry, Mediterranean rosé, and a slightly off-dry German Riesling. Both are the kind of wines which I think are just the ticket for summer imbibing – delicious, fun, great with or without food, and inexpensive. Summer should be all about enjoying great company, great food, and trying not to take things so seriously. Our ceviche dinner with the two wines below satisfied on all accounts.
2013 Montrose Rosé (Languedoc, France), $17
This wine is one of those southern-French rosés that truly feels like summer in a glass: all peaches and apricots on the nose, with tangy acidity and summer berries on the palate. Fully dry, naturally, as is the Southern French way, but with the essences and flavours of these fruits rather than any sweetness.
This wine’s acidity was a great match for the tartness of the ceviche, something that a wine must wrangle with in a dish with so much citrus juice. Its fruitiness also tempered the racy acidity of the lime juice, and was particularly complementary with the sweet red peppers. The weight of the wine, being only slightly more substantial than a white wine, was well-aligned with the firm-fleshed mahi mahi.
2012 Leitz “Dragonstone” Riesling (Rheingau, Germany), $23
This Riesling is an absolute superstar. It's not often that my Metrovino colleagues and I come across a wine that holds such great value. A few reasons for this are that it is truly gluggable (danger!), has beautiful complexity for a wine at this price point, and on the practical side, it is outrageously versatile in all manner of wine and food pairings.
Now, this wine involves a little disclaimer: people are often hesitant or suspicious when they come across German Riesling, often assuming it will be too sweet and insipid. This is an attitude that remains from a time when we could only get low-quality German wines in Canada like Black Tower and Blue Nun, and fortunately, things have changed – a lot! We have access to some of the best German wines in Calgary, many of which are globally respected and highly sought after. German Rieslings express a spectrum of sugar levels, from bone dry to opulent and sweet. When German Rieslings are made well and with integrity the level of residual sugar (RS) they posses (or lack thereof = dry) is directly and naturally influenced by how ripe the grapes were when they were harvested. This ripeness is expressed with fruity qualities and varyingly “off-dry” levels of RS, without manipulation or much intervention. Mostly, the wines will be allowed to do what they want to do, in terms of where they lie on the sweetness spectrum, except for certain cases where a wine will be fermented dry. Enough about the technicalities! Good German Riesling is delicious, and you should drink it!
Back to the pairing. I marvel at this wine for many reasons. Firstly, it is stunningly well-balanced: off-dry in style with a touch of residual sugar that rounds out the truly racy acidity for a glorious mouth-filling texture. Lychee and lemongrass aromatics top it off to present a wine in which all the elements are truly in harmony with one another – elevating each to a higher level than they would be on their own. Red berries and yellow plum, with that zippy, lime-like acidity on the palate. This wine was a natural partner for our delicate ceviche. Like the rosé, this wine has the zing to stand up to all the lime juice in the dish, and the touch of sweetness fleshes out the weight and texture to complement the fish nicely, and also tempers the heat from the jalapeños. Finally, the Asiatic aromatics are lovely with all the fresh vegetables, and especially the vibrancy of the cilantro.