Chicago's Perfect Pairings

By Kendyl Kearly and Erin Lettera


Kendyl Kearly and Erin Lettera
Sepia's king crab chawanmushi paired with “Les Grands Charrons" chardonnay
Sepia's king crab chawanmushi paired with “Les Grands Charrons" chardonnay



Just like in their relationship, CoffeeDate’s Erin and Jason Koroll found a pairings works in tandem. Jason roasts Juan Felipe Aristizábal espresso from Caldas, Colombia, and its natural, 48-hour fermentation comes with a serious fruitiness like plum and lychee with a caramel finish. When Baker Erin tasted it for the first time, she had total tart eyes and immediately wanted something toasty and comforting but also bright and punchy. So she went with a toasted-corn-silk tart with sunflower seed frangipane for nuttiness and rhubarb to match the espresso’s fruity notes. The coffee and dessert react to each other like twin flames, completely magnetic from sip to bite and back again.








RPM Seafood
Instead of choosing haddock or cod for fish and chips, Chef Bob Broskey went all out with Dover sole at the fine dining RPM Seafood. (It’s probably the only fish and chips that requires buying fish at auction in Holland twice a week.) Broskey fries the sole in a masa batter and serves with pommes soufflés and a sauce gribiche made with cornichons (full recipe here). For this high-low dish, Wine Director Richard Hanauer chose a 2012 special club Champagne from Vazart-Coquart & Fils. The chardonnay grapes grow in similar soil to the region around the English Channel, where the fish swim. “The fish with the masa batter is such a cool texture, and the bubbles enhance it,” Hanauer says. “And this blanc de blancs has so much lemon; it’s like a squeeze of lemon juice over fish.”









Chef Kyle Cottle’s rich king crab chawanmushi with sauce Nantua, yuzu butter, and shio kombu just stews in textural freedom. Wine Director Alex Ring says, "The dish is delicate but decadent, and I want a wine that is textural in depth but not fat." So he leaned into Burgundy and pulled a bottle of chardonnay, Domaine Bachey-Legros, “Les Grands Charrons,” Meursault, 2017, which comes from a single-vineyard, mother-daughter-son operation. Because drinking the sauce Nantua that floods the chawanmushi would be frowned upon, the wine is the next best thing. The buttery, round white Burgundy builds and builds on every last note until the last clink of the spoon in your bowl. 








The opulent warm caviar dish (full recipe here) was already on the menu when Head Sommelier Kevin Goldsmith took over the wine program at Smyth. His predecessor’s instinct was Champagne, and, unsurprisingly, no one complained about that combination. But Goldsmith had a different idea. “The warming of the caviar brings much more nutty flavors to the forefront, combined with the Marcona almond milk and black walnut oil that are reminiscent of oxidized flavors found in certain wines,” he says. Goldsmith paired it with a palomino Sherry, Bodegas Tradición’s “VORS 30 Years,” for its oxidative qualities, acidity, and high alcohol content. Starting with the Sherry triggers salivation and wets the palate for what’s to come. A spoonful of the buttery caviar satiates the dryness, but you immediately want the palomino again in an addictive back-and-forth that mimics the craveability of sweet and salty snacks.

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