I was invited to participate in a Wine Writing Challenge which you can find here and the theme is “Pairing.” Pairing is an easy topic for wine as we’re always trying to figure out what wine goes with what food. It’s even gone so far as to pairing wines with movies, moods, colors, and erectile dysfunction (yes, you read it right…check out HoseMaster of Wine’s tongue-in-cheek article here). In my case, I had a pairing crisis…
Okay…maybe not really a crisis. No one was bleeding to death, a national disaster wasn’t determined. We were at Bacon Fest a couple of weeks ago in Easton, Pennsylvania. There is actually a festival entirely about bacon. Bacon in every form imaginable and even some you can’t. Bacon bloody mary’s, bacon croissants, bacon smoothies, bacon empanadas, bacon bourbon shots, bacon waffles, bacon poutine, bacon ice cream, bacon hats, bacon costumes, bacon themed t-shirts, and so on. I tried chocolate covered bacon (so-so), bacon fingers (just like chicken fingers but melt in your mouth thick cut bacon…divine), and bacon s’mores (omg). Gooey melted marshmallow enveloping softened chocolate mounded with crispy bacon, and all smooshed between two graham crackers. I’m drooling just thinking about it.
It inspired me to invite a bunch of girlfriends over for a fire and bacon s’mores. Of course they quickly agreed knowing there would be bacon and chocolate and marshmallows…and since it’s at my house, definitely wine. Now the pairing dilemma…what on earth would I pair with bacon s’mores? Is there even a wine that would pair with it? While I frequently encourage people to drink what they like regardless of trying to find the perfect match to their food, I also know there are certain pairings that create a dance party in your mouth (champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, anyone?). Being the foodie and wino that I am, I’m always searching for that party, the one that makes me do a little happy dance and sigh and moan with each mouthful. Bacon s’mores already did that. Now, I needed to figure out how to create the full monty of gastronomical pleasure.
I took a vote among the women as they’re a wino loving bunch like me and there was a resounding vote…Petite Sirah. Yes! Oh yes. Rich and fruit-foward with sultry dark fruits, and the slightest tinge of tannic bitterness. Complex, spicy, lip-smacking full-bodied lusciousness. My favorite wine of all time (go ahead, judge me…I don’t care) and almost impossible to find. Why didn’t I think of this? It can handle all the different flavors and heavy richness of bacon, marshmallow, and chocolate. Instead of overwhelming the s’mores, it complements it. Time to start the mouth dance party!
Honestly, I tried to find Petite Sirah wines on the East Coast, and to say the least, it was a difficult pursuit. Petite Sirah is an exceptionally rare grape with less than 10,000 acres planted worldwide, growing mainly in California. Even when I did find the wine (which was mostly Syrah and not Petite Sirah – totally different grapes, but related), it was made with California grapes. I couldn’t find East Coast vineyards that were actually growing the grapes, mostly because of how difficult they are for the East Coast climate. Petite Sirah loves lots of heat and sun…not a common trend here on the East Coast. One place I know, Blue Mountain Vineyard in New Tripoli, Pennsylvania, grows the grapes and makes the wine!*
Blue Mountain Vineyard focuses on mostly, dry, European style reds such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chambourcin, Petite Sirah, Shiraz, Meritage, Cabernet Franc, and more. Their climate and soil is very similar to the Loire Valley in France, and they exclusively use French Oak for all their oak aging, which means their wines have French characteristics such as a smooth long finish, as well as a slight spiciness and earthiness. Petite Sirah is the closest they come to a “New World” wine style. While the current vintage they have of Petite Sirah is 2011 (very limited quantities), and the 2012 vintage is almost sold out, I had a rare bottle of their 2006 vintage (no longer available). With dry, robust notes of simmering blackberry and plum with a hint of juicy blueberry, subtle smokey spice on a layered lingering finish, I became a Petite Sirah convert. I have one more 2006 Petite Sirah and a 2011 Petite Sirah at home that I’m dying to open for the bacon s’mores. As much as I want to hoard them, part of the gastronomical dance party joy is sharing it with beloved friends.
As a side note, if you know of any East Coast vineyards/wineries that have a Petite Sirah, point me in their direction! I’m always searching for it.
*Disclaimer: I manage at Blue Mountain Vineyards, but I never receive any type of compensation for reviewing their wines. I simply love their wines! If I didn’t, I wouldn’t work there.