News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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September 15, 2013

GRAPE SENSE: Pairing fruit wine with dinner? It’s a matter of experimentation

Michigan has long been known for its apples, cherries, blueberries and more. Indiana has raspberries, blackberries, peaches and more. Winemakers have been turning those fruits to wines for decades.

While fruit wine often gets the cold shoulder from snooty wine drinkers, those wines remain some of the best sellers throughout the Midwest.

But what do you do for dinner if your wine rack only has fruit wine choices? It’s just a matter of experimentation and perhaps a little direction from others.

“A lot of people just like sweet wines,” said Kim Doty, French Lick Winery. Many people like it for dessert. There is this mystique that you have to drink dry wines but many people like sweet … people are going to drink what they like.”

And if you like sweet wines just use a dose of logic — like pairing a cranberry wine with poultry.

Another classic pairing is raspberry wine with just about anything chocolate. The sweetness level of the wine will set the bar for sweet, semi-sweet, or a robust dark chocolate dessert. Of course raspberry wine makes a great reduction to use with chocolate desserts, cheesecake and other sweets.

Generally, wine drinkers will think of a sweeter Riesling or Gewürztraminer for spicy Asian food. Why not try a peach wine with a spicy pairing? You might be surprised how well it complements big strong flavors. You can always fall back to grape wines and pair a semi-sweet, Midwestern Traminette.

Huber Winery, with Indiana’s biggest vineyard and acres more of fruit and vegetables, makes peach, strawberry, apple and blackberry wines.

“We partner one of our semi-sweet sparkling wines with a peach and a graham cracker as an appetizer,” said Dana Huber, Huber Winery, Starlight. “But obviously people just enjoy them as a perfect glass of wine independent as dessert in a glass. Certainly brownies or cheesecake can be a great match as far as sweet wines.”

Another wonderful pairing is just about any fruit wine with a salad. It’s simple, just think of your ingredients and if you’d add the fresh fruit to the salad or not. Add the fruit wine as a complement instead of the fresh berries or fruit.

Wine has always been a staple in most kitchens in reductions and traditional food pairings.

“We’ve had some customers marinate steaks in our blackberry wine which it gives it a really nice tenderness and a little sweetness on it,” Huber said. “The sweet wines are definitely something home cooks can use in their recipes.”

Another great fruit-based wine is infusions. An infusion usually is a wine infused with a complementary brandy. “You can take an infusion, and replace some of the water in a recipe and infuse your brownie bites. They’re really yummy and it’s a good addition.”

Doty’s winery produces an award-winning cherry wine that’s great with desserts. “One of the things with the cherry we recommend is to try it with goat cheese,” she said. “It sounds weird, but it’s really a great match.”

Howard W. Hewitt, Crawfordsville, writes for 23 Midwestern newspapers every other week about value wine. Read his wine blog at: www.howardhewitt.net.

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