Unique Pairings with Sheri Sauter Morano

The Master of Wine and spokesperson for Wines of France advocates thinking outside the pairing box.

When it comes to food and wine pairings, there are some tried and true matches and general guidelines that frequently trump experimentation. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with classic partnerships like Champagne and caviar, Sauternes and foie gras, and California Cabs with big slabs of meat, there are many other wine options out there that would be possibly even better. Couple that with the timeless saying “If it grows together, it goes together,” and you could find yourself stymied with limitation and stuck in a full-out pairing rut.

This summer, Master of Wine Sheri Sauter Morano has teamed up with Winebow to promote more adventurous wine and food selections through a program called “Pairing Without Borders.” Morano has always believed in having fun with pairings, and hopes to provide people with more wiggle room through her cross-continent pairings and drive the idea that when you mix different cultures together, you come up with new flavor profiles.

Morano’s first set list highlights wines from Austria, Germany and Chile coupled with dishes from the Caribbean, India, Mexico and the United States, and other countries. Selections include:

2010 Grüner Veltliner, LOIS (Austria) SRP: $15, paired with Chicken Tacos (Mexico)
2009 Riesling, Clean Slate (Germany) SRP: $10, paired with Jerk Shrimp (Caribbean)
2010 Albariño, Lícia (Spain) SRP: $16, paired with Shrimp & Grits (USA)
2008 Sangiovese, Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico (Italy) SRP: $20, paired with Grilled Burgers (Germany/USA)
2008 Carmenere, Terra Noble Gran Reserva (Chile) SRP: $18, paired with Grilled Curried Lamb Kebabs (India)
2009 Torrontes, Tilia (Argentina) SRP: $10, paired with Quiche Lorraine (France)
2008 Malbec, Bodega Catena Zapata (Argentina) SRP: $24, paired with Chinese Beef with Peanuts (China)

Morano shared two of her recipes to try at home. The Easy Shrimp & Grits and Chicken Taco recipes are both paired with a refreshing white wine, making them ideal for summer entertaining.

Easy Shrimp & Grits

Recipe courtesy of Sheri Sauter Morano, MW

It is thought that shrimp and grits (coarsely ground corn) originated in the Low Country, a region along the coast of South Carolina, as a breakfast dish popular among fishermen.

Today, it is a classic Southern staple that is equally popular among upscale restaurants and home cooks. One of the classic recipes for Shrimp and Grits comes from Bill Neal, the founder of Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who passed away in 1991. Neal, sometimes called the “Godfather of Southern cooking,” made his shrimp and grits a bit on the spicy side, but you can tailor the recipe to your taste easily.

For the shrimp:
1 pound of shrimp (can use frozen shrimp that are peeled and deveined with tails removed)
½ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 to 6 slices bacon
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup sliced white button mushrooms
1 16–ounce can of diced tomatoes (not drained)
Tabasco sauce, to taste
Skewers for grilling
Salt and pepper
Fresh parsley, chopped

For the cheese grits:
1 cup stone-ground grits
2 cups milk
2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
¼ cup cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
Pepper

To make shrimp marinade: If necessary, defrost shrimp according to the directions on the bag.  In a medium bowl, combine orange juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and cayenne pepper, add shrimp and marinate for about 30 minutes. While the shrimp is marinating, heat a small skillet and cook the bacon until crisp. An alternative method for cooking the bacon is by using the microwave—place bacon in between two layers of paper towels and microwave at 45 second intervals until done and then set aside.

To make mushroom sauté: In a small skillet, heat remaining tablespoon of oil. Add garlic, sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, then add mushrooms and sauté for another 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, a dash of Tabasco and salt and pepper, to taste. Reduce heat to the lowest setting until serving.

To cook the grits: Combine the milk, water and salt in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Gradually add the grits while whisking mixture.  Once combined, lower heat and cook uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes (can be less depending on the type of grits you use), stirring frequently to prevent lumps and grits from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  Once mixture is thick and creamy, remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese, cream cheese, butter and pepper.

To grill the shrimp: Preheat a grill to 350°F. Skewer the shrimp and grill until cooked through, about 6 minutes.
To assemble the dish: Ladle grits into 4 shallow bowls. Divide shrimp, spoon the mushroom-tomato mixture over shrimp and top with crumbled bacon and parsley.

Wine pairing: “The acidity and citrus notes of the Lícia Albariño [from Spain’s Rías Baixas region] make it a perfect match for shrimp and grits,” explains Morano. “The wine handles both the spicy flavors of the dish and the heaviness of the grits.  The addition of the cheese to the grits adds richness and fattiness, but the medium body and lively, crisp acidity of the Albariño act as the perfect counterbalance.  Spanish white wines are known for pairing beautifully with seafood and in many ways, Easy Shrimp and Grits could be considered the Southern version of the Spanish dish paella.” Serves 4.

Chicken and Avocado Tacos

Recipe courtesy of Sheri Sauter Morano, MW

Corn tortillas are a central part of Mexican cuisine with a history that dates back thousands of years. Versatile and easy to make, tortilla can be filled with an endless combination of ingredients. While many recipes call for tacos to be filled with ground beef, it has become very popular to fill tacos with healthy alternatives such as fish or grilled chicken.  The LOIS Grüner Veltliner and Morano’s love of Mexican food and several recipes for tacos inspired this creation.

1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cumin
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 onion, cut into large chunks
1 to 2 jalapeños, seeds and ribs removed, sliced in large strips
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ an avocado
¼ cup sour cream
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup of shredded cabbage and carrots
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
6 (6-inch) corn tortillas
Goat cheese crumbles

Mix the ancho chili powder, garlic powder, salt, cumin and cayenne together and coat both sides of the chicken breasts.  Place the chicken breasts on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, place onion and jalepeño in medium-sized bowl.  Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and the garlic salt and mix well. Preheat grill. When grill is hot, add chicken and cook for 10 minutes, flip and then add jalapeños and onions. Cook for another 10 minutes, then remove chicken and grilled vegetables from grill. Let rest for a minute or tow, then cut chicken into long strips and set aside.

Scoop out avocado into small bowl. Add sour cream, half of the lime juice, cilantro and ½ teaspoon of salt. Mash with a fork until combined. In another small bowl, combine the slaw, olive oil, ¼ teaspoon of salt, pepper and remaining lime juice. Mix well.

Heat a non stick skillet on medium-high heat. Spray with cooking oil. Heat the tortillas until warmed through and slightly toasted. To serve, spread avocado mixture on each tortilla, top with chicken, grilled jalapenos, grilled onions and slaw mixture. Sprinkle with goat cheese crumbles, fold and serve.

Wine Pairing: “The Chicken Tacos call for a light white wine that will complement the spice of the chicken and the zesty, citrus flavors of the (lime juice, cilantro, avocado, goat cheese, jalapeño and grilled onion),” says Morano. “Grüner Veltliner, with its peppery, citrusy, green apple character proves an excellent partner for the cilantro and the limey flavors of the shredded cabbage.  The acidity of Grüner Veltliner also balances the creamy richness of avocado and the sour cream.”

5 Mother Sauce Pairings Mastered

Published on July 21, 2011
Topics: Recipes, Wine and Food Pairings
About the Author
Lauren Buzzeo
Managing Editor

Reviews wines from South Africa and Languedoc-Roussillon. Reviews beers.

Buzzeo joined Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2006 as a tasting coordinator, and eventually became Tasting Director and Senior Editor, previously responsible for overseeing all aspects of the tasting and review program. Most recently, Buzzeo assumed the role of Managing Editor. Since coming to Wine Enthusiast, she has made it one of her personal missions to promote the acceptance of cross-drinking, encouraging everyone to embrace finely crafted libations across all beverage categories. Buzzeo is also an avid homebrewer and a member of the AHA (American Homebrewers Association). Email: lbuzzeo@wineenthusiast.net.




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