Pairing Twisted Oak Wines with Food

The next time you pick up a bottle of wine, take a peek at the alcohol content.  It's the tiny print somewhere small on the front label.  I've found red wines 13-14.5% in alcohol usually pair the best with food.  Wines that say 15% or higher can dominate the delicate flavors of food.  If you're eating something that isn't delicate like say, pizza or BBQ then a Zinfandel or Shiraz around 15% works.  The number on the front of the bottle may or may not be exactly what you get as there's about  a half percentage point of wiggle room.  14.5% might really be 15%, and the 15% might really be 15.5%. Many European wines pair well with food because they're well balanced anywhere from 12%-14% alcohol on average.  Next time you enjoy a European Cabernet or Syrah based wine, compare it's texture and alcohol percentage against a Cabernet or Syrah with a higher alcohol percentage from a different country.

The first time I tried Twisted Oak and tasted through the wines I was pleasantly surprised by how well balanced they were, but more importantly, how the alcohol percentage level was perfect.  I met winemaker Jeff Stai @eljefetwisted at the Wine 2.0 event last April and talked with him about his ability to make such complex wines without making them too big.  Behind the whimsical rubber chicken marketing, Jeff is serious about "making wine to compliment a meal without overpowering it."

The Twisted Oak Tempranillo comes in at 13.7% alcohol, but you wouldn't guess it from its complexity.  The alcohol content was perfect as it exudes silkiness and refinement.  Jeff's 2005 Tempranillo was awarded 90 points from Wine Enthusiast and won a gold medal at the 2008 Riverside International Wine Competition.  I've tried wine+food pairings with about half of the Twisted Oak lineup, including the Tempranillo and can say the wines are very easy to pair with.  The Tempranillo is ideal for proteins like lamb, tender beef cuts, game cuts and pork.  It also works well with salami or sausage, especially in a tomato-based sauce on pasta.  My favorite pairing is to serve with the Coriander-Crusted Lamb Chops as both wine and recipe has a great balance of flavors.

Experiement with this with the wines you enjoy.  Take a look at the alcohol percentage on each bottle to get an idea of how it affects the wine in the bottle.  Then see what your palate likes with the wine+food pairings.  I'd like to hear what you find.  Do 13.5-14% ALC wines pair the best?  Cheers!

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