Go With Them
What’s your notion of the ideal comfort food? I asked a few friends and answers were pretty much the same: warm, soothing, and, yes … comforting food. There seems to be a real hunger for comfort foods and, for the most part, the basic list of familiar classics probably has not changed in decades. Burgers, meatloaf, mac & cheese all seem to have endured the test of time and continue to be favourite sources of solace for even the most finicky appetites.
Many think of comfort foods as a way to warm up on a cold winter night, but comfort food is really great at any time of year. So if you’ve had a tough day, a long week or just need a little “ahhhh,” look to one of the soothing dishes below. Some are familiar classics, while others are the favourites of my youth and dishes I’ve enjoyed at some of my favourite restaurants.
And what better way to enjoy your favourite dish than by pairing it with a great bottle of wine? Even better when that bottle is in a comfortable price point — under $25.
Capezzana Barco Reale di Carmignano DOC 2005, Tuscany, Italy ($24)
Predominantely Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine from a small area just west of Florence possesses exuberant ruby-red colour with violet highlights and intense and ripe fruity aromas. Medium-bodied with lush black-cherry flavours and a hint of earthiness dominate this soft, stylish wine that finishes with lingering sweet fruit. A great match with a moist, savoury meatloaf.
Chicken Pot Pie
Rabl Spiegel Grüner Veltliner 2005, Kamptal, Austria ($21)
Very pure and focused, with an intensity to the peach, apricot and slate flavours. Impressively structured with a vibrant finish that echoes the flavours on the palate. Plenty of structure and acidity to cut through the creaminess of the chicken pot pie. Lively and soothing at the same time.
Mac & Cheese
Renwood Viognier 2006, Lodi, USA ($23)
Wonderful perfume and floral aromas with ripe peach, fig, apricot and honeyed flavours that are pure and delicious. A nice bit of liveliness on the finish. Perfect for that rich, smooth, velvety and oh-so-cheesy mac & cheese.
Santa Maria La Palma Le Bombarde Cannonau DOC 2006, Sardinia, Italy ($17)
Loads of cherry and plum flavours, with nice spice, depth and richness and a pleasing touch of acidity on the finish that lends itself so well to pairing with a wide range of cuisines. Possesses an elegance beyond its price. Truly one of the great wine values of the world and an excellent companion for the myriad of spices in the lamb curry. The classic comfort wine.
Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Chicken Noodle Soup
Kruger-Rumpf Riesling Münsterer Kapellenberg Kabinett 2005, Nahe, Germany ($23)
A lively white filled with apricot, apple, and mineral aromas and flavours. Full of intensity, with a green-apple finish that lingers. Crisp and focused, bringing brightness to both the sandwich and the soup.
A Big Bowl of Mashed Potatoes
Black Lagoon Old Bush Vine Shiraz 2004, Languedoc-Roussillon, France ($17)
Stylish with ripe, jammy blueberry, licorice, plum and earthy notes that glide across the palate with supple tannins and a juicy finish. Add a little Parmesan to your potatoes to make them even more comforting and heighten the flavours in the wine.
Pasta e Fagioli
Fabiano La Piazzola Valpolicella Classico Superiore DOC 2005, Veneto, Italy ($15)
Enticing aromas of slightly raisiny fruit with hints of spice. Full-flavoured with a fresh, fruity palate; flavours of dried cherry, plum, and prunes; a good mineral backbone; and a long, silky finish. What a match with this rich and delicious bean-and-pasta soup!
Grilled Pork Chops with Roasted Root Veggies
Cave Spring Pinot Noir 2006, Niagara ($24)
Lovely character with hints of earth, spice and ripe-cherry aromas and flavours matched to a vibrant frame and silky texture. Pork and Pinot: what more could you need?