With small plates in vogue, the question of wine pairing can present a quandary. A variety of dishes with different flavors can make it unclear what wine will best complement the fare when numerous small bites are on the menu. In her book Small Plates, Perfect Wines: Creating little dishes with big flavors, Lori Lyn Narlock views this symphony of tastes as an opportunity to pair one meal with a range of wines. She recommends serving each dish with a wine recommended specifically for it, picking your favorite variety and serving it with each dish, or allowing each diner to choose their favorite among a selection of wines. The idea is to enjoy yourself and have fun!
For more small plate pairings tips and recipes, check out Small Plates, Perfect Wines (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $16.95).
Caramelized Pear and Walnut Salad with Prosciutto
For the vinaigrette:
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped red onion
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into Â½-inch thick wedges
¾ cup walnut halves
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
2 romaine lettuce hearts, torn into bit-sized pieces
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into thin strips
For the vinaigrette: In a small saucepan, bring the orange juice to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until reduced to about 1/3 cup, 7-10 minutes. Pour into a blender. Add the vinegar, wine, onion and sugar and purée. With the machine running, gradually add the oil in a slow, steady stream. Refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
For the salad: In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pears and walnuts. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the Â¼ sugar and the water and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring often, until the sugar begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Put the lettuce in a large bowl. Add half of the vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly. Arrange the lettuce on 6 serving plates. Top each with an equal amount of the prosciutto and the pear mixture. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the top and serve. Serves 6.
Narlock suggests pairing this dish with a Chardonnay.
Grilled Pork with Plum Salsa
For the grilled pork:
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
¼ cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
For the plum salsa:
1 navel orange
1 pound fresh plums or nectarines, pitted and diced
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1 teaspoon minced Serrano chili
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the grilled pork: Trim away any excess fat or silver skin from the pork and place the meat in a heavy, resealable plastic bag.
In a small bowl, whisk together the wine, orange juice, olive oil, honey and cumin. Pour over the pork, turning to coat evenly. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 4 hours, turning frequently.
For the plum salsa: Cut the peel and pith away from the orange, following the curve of the fruit with your knife, and then cut the flesh into ½-inch cubes, discarding any seeds or large bits of membrane. Put in a glass or stainless-steel bowl. Add the plums or nectarines, onion, chili, cilantro, lime juice, ginger, cumin and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring often.
Remove the pork from the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before grilling. Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry, discarding the marinade. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat a gas grill to medium-high. Brush the grill grids with oil. Place the pork in the center of the grill, cover and cook, turning 2 to 3 times, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the port registers 140Â°F, 12 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a plate or cutting board and let stand for 10 minute.
Cut the meat into think slices and divide among 6 plates. Pour any juices that have collected in the plate over the meat. Top each serving with a generous spoonful of the salsa. Serves 6.
Narlock suggests pairing this dish with a Riesling or Zinfandel.