Frank Family’s Zinfandel Port is certainly a dessert wine, and its best pairings run the course of rich molten chocolate cake, sweet fruit-based desserts like cherry pie and vanilla ice cream, and crunchy, nutty dishes like pecan pie or a chocolate walnut crumble. However, beyond the traditional dessert pairings, there are a number of exciting ways to add Port to an evening of culinary exploration.
1. With Blue Cheese
When paired with bold, blue veined cheeses, a wonderfully combative energy develops between the Port’s silky richness and the cheese’s tangy, salty, and wild nature. The classic example of this is English Stilton cheese, but the same can be accomplished with Maytag blue, French Roquefort, or Italian Gorgonzola. Let the sweetness from the wine tame the cheese, while the cheese’s salty brightness amplifies the Port’s extraordinary fruit notes
2. With a Savory Dish
Diving deeper, we find Port to be an exhilarating partner with savory dishes, but for those with delicate palates, tread lightly! Port and main course pairings attack the taste buds with an array of contrasting notes. Embrace the spirit of Umami when bringing Port to the table, with slow cooked, braised beef done with savory broths and hearty winter vegetables.
The French have a dish called Pot au Feu, meant to be enjoyed on the coldest of winter nights, that matches perfectly with a nip of Port wine. Fresh homemade focaccia, baked with sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions and grated parmesan, packs in umami savoriness, and practically explodes in the mouth once you add Port to the mix.
“When I was the bartender at Manhattan’s famed Striphouse Restaurant in the Union Square neighborhood, I would serve roasted bone marrow and garlic, served in the bone, and pair it with Ruby Port as an appetizer for Wall Street executives waiting at the bar for their table. It’s an absolutely wild pairing, but not for the faint of heart!” – Liam Gearity, Director of Hospitality
3. With Meat
For the truly self-indulgent, Port can be used to sauce the best cuts of meat, adding richness and sweetness to the flavors on the plate. Sautee garlic and shallots in a pan full of butter, then add Port wine and savory broth or stock and reduce the heat until it’s the consistency of syrup. Add aromatics like rosemary, bay leaves, or thyme and serve with gamey meats, like rack of lamb or crispy duck breast.
4. In a Cocktail
Lastly, don’t sleep on Port as a fascinating mixology component. Winter weather calls for stiff libations and adding Port to your cocktail recipes can breathe new life into old favorites. Try subbing Port for sweet vermouth in your Manhattan or Nigroni. Chill Port and Cognac together in a cocktail shaker, and strain into a glass with a brandy-soaked cherry as a garnish for a sophisticated after-dinner cocktail to enjoy by the fire.