Pairings from South Florida

top pairing
by Amanda McDougall with photos by Antoinette Bruno
Vol. 7
January, 2008   
After tasting our way around South Florida’s top restaurants, four wine pairings stood out from the rest. Whether it was for their off-the-beaten path direction, wine-making heritage, or down-right harmony with the food, each of these Top Pairs deserves a spotlight.
Restaurant
  • Cielo at The Boca Raton Resort
  • 501 East Camino Real
  • Boca Raton, FL 33432
  • 888-543-1277
  • www.bocaresort.com
Who
  • Sommelier Roberto Colombi
  • Roberto Colombi is a bit of a wine boy-wonder. He grew up in Italy where wine was a constant topic of conversation in the family, and his uncle, also a sommelier, started taking him to wine fairs at the age of 13. Just over a decade later, he’s focusing on educating Cielo customers about "how to drink and enjoy wine in a better way."
Wine
Albertus, H. Lun, Gewurztraminer, Alto Adige, 2006
Dish
Foie Gras Torchon with Quince Puree and Pumpernickel Wafer
Pairing Note
What a joy! What was most delightful about this pairing is that it wasn’t the usual heavy, honey-sweet Sauterne typically paired with foie gras. This wine has a nice acidity that cuts through the foie’s richness. It was light and refreshing.
Restaurant
Who
  • Sommelier Cynthia Betancourt
  • Sommelier Cynthia Betancourt started her career in the restaurant business on the culinary side, but soon found her calling in wine. Since joining Azul in 2007, she has been adding to the restaurant’s collection of over 700 wines and is working toward becoming a Master Sommelier.
Wine
Adrianna Vineyard, Catena Zapata, Malbec, Mendoza, 2004
Dish
Yogurt Marinated Swordfish and Brown Butter Lobster Sauce with Toasted Pita and Tomato Salad
Pairing Note
Soft in tannins and overall flavor, this malbec doesn’t overwhelm the marinated swordfish. The wine is made by a woman and Betancourt believes that a woman’s touch is reflected in the wine. We agreed. The creaminess of the yogurt and buttery lobster sauce are well-matched with the supple body of the wine, while the fruit characteristics compliment the tomatoes.
Restaurant
  • The Oceanaire Seafood Room
  • 900 South Miami Ave.
  • Miami, FL 33130
  • (305) 372-8862
Who
  • Sommelier Jorge Morgado
  • Originally from Puerto Rico, Sommelier Jorge Morgado has traveled the world and developed an excellent palate. His pairings with the often complicated and spicy flavor profiles from Chef Bernal’s kitchen are a testament to his talent.
Wine
Aquilon, Alto Moncayo, Garnacha, Camp de Borja, 2005
Dish
Monkfish Osso Buco-Style with Chanterelles and Lemon Thyme
Pairing Note
This wine’s big, bold, and chewy profile stands up to Chef Sean Bernal’s rich and flavorful monkfish osso buco. The wine’s heat and dark berry flavor compliment the red wine demi glace and mushrooms in the dish.
Restaurant
  • Emeril's Miami Beach
  • Loews Miami Beach Hotel, 1601 Collins Avenue
  • Miami Beach, FL 33139
  • (305) 695-4550
Who
  • Sommelier David Mokha
  • Self-taught and eager to learn everything there is about wine, Sommelier David Mokha made the jump from a small independent restaurant to a multi-unit operation to do just that. His strengths lie in his unusual but wonderful pairings and his easy-going explanations for those matches.
Wine
Grosjean, Gamay, Valle d’Aosta, 2005
Dish
New Orleans Barbeque Shrimp with a Petite Rosemary Biscuit
Pairing Note
Pairing a northern Italian wine with Lagasse’s rich and aggressively-seasoned barbeque shrimp is thinking outside of the box. And that’s the challenge here—kicking it up a notch (ouch!). The cola and plum flavors played off the spicy and salty components of the dish, while the subtle earthiness complements the dark roux sauce.
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