Wine and Swine: Time to Dine

By Joe Sevier


Joe Sevier
Charcutier Fred Maurer and Lettuce Entertain You Sommelier Ryan Arnold at their "Drinks and Links" tasting.
Charcutier Fred Maurer and Lettuce Entertain You Sommelier Ryan Arnold at their "Drinks and Links" tasting.

On day one of the 12th Annual StarChefs International Chefs Congress, Charcutier Fred Maurer (aka Hot Dog Boyfriend formerly of Dickson’s Farmstand Meats) loaded Congress goers’ plates with five types of sausage while Lettuce Entertain You Sommelier Ryan Arnold challenged each attendee to speak up about the six Rhône Valley wines he had chosen to drink with the links.

Arnold himself was on the journey too, since he’d picked the wines, all selections from Costières de Nîmes, only having gotten a description of the sausages’ flavor and a list of ingredients from Maurer without ever having tasted them. All that’s to say it’s impressive that the sausages worked so well with their juicy counterparts, since sausage is notoriously difficult to pair with wine. “Each recipe has at least eight ingredients,” laments Arnold, plus sausages are often characterized by spicy heat or garnished with pickled veg—both elements Arnold admits he’s more apt to pair with beer.

He recommends looking for “freshness and acidity” when pairing wine with sausage. He’s particularly fond of Rhônes’ trend of fermenting in cement or concrete vats which eliminates the oxidized notes of wood-barreled wines. And he warns to stay away from tannins and lean toward fruity, off-dry reds which will round out sausages’ heat.

One of the best pairings on offer was a duck neck bratwurst (flavored with mustard and tarragon) and a Blanc, Château de Campuget, Tradition, Costières-de-Nîmes, Rhône, France, 2016. The wine smelled of tropical fruit (namely durian) and while it was delicious on the tip of the tongue, once tasted with the sausage, the full floral aroma of the wine opened on the back end with notes of honeysuckle. There was also a mushroom “pâté” that worked well with a salmon-hued Syrah/Vermentino, Château de Campuget, 1753 Rosé, Costières-de-Nîmes, Rhône, France, 2016. Sausage and wine? Sounds good to us.

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