Fishing for a Few Pairings?

Here we are already… I have to be honest, I’m not a fan of this holiday called: Labor Day.  It’s like a marker that only spells out one thing, The End of Summer.  Sadly.  With my neighbor’s kids already back in school and the smell of damp condensation in the air, I’m excited to see fall, but not the onset of another Minnesota winter.

Since my move to the great state of Minnesota, almost four years ago now, I have come to appreciate quite a few things Midwestern from clearly a much different perspective than I had of this part of the country when living on the west coast.  For one, the power of having great neighbors.  All things considered, I have a tremendous neighborhood filled with great folks, awesome kids and a part of the city that lives very close to every lake in south Minneapolis, it’s great.  Two, as a Midwesterner, you’re allowed to greet folks on the sidewalk with a smile, say hello to everyone you meet and ask folks about their families without getting a weird look like you’re trying to steal their purse.  And lastly, it’s the good ole Midwestern fun that comes with living here.  People get geared up for the summers here – swimming in lakes, heading to the cabin on the weekends and suddenly, the State Fair becomes a major hi-lite to the summer’s end.  But there’s one thing that I can truly appreciate again after living for years on the west coast that only Midwesterners get really geared up for in the summer, and that is: Fishing. 

Fishing in the Midwest involves a good fishing pole, worms for bait or even some crazy ass lure that would reel in one heck of a Minnesotan Monster, The Very Infamous and Very Elusive Muskie.  While the muskie should take the place of our state bird, as state animal – it is the one thing that Minnesotans dream of when it comes to outdoor activity.  Hard to catch, fun to reel in and never meant for keeping.  Hook it up, take your picture and let it go – is the name of the game.  Well, I tried my hand at catching the little monster last weekend.  While I was proven unsuccessful, I did catch this…

Leslee's Big FishIt’s clearly not a muskie and really, not even big even to eat…but the comment did come up after my catch, and it was: “So Leslee, what would you pair to all these lake fish for wine?”

Of course my family would ask me that question.  But, a great question at that.  So, I figured as everyone is off to the cabin for the upcoming holiday – Labor Day – you may ask yourself, ‘What wine should I stock the cooler with for our weekend?’

No worries, I’m here to tell ya – PLUS give you my Top Hits for pairing wine to these little fish-es. 

* Remember when pairing to ANY dish, that it’s not necessarily the COLOR of the main ingredient, BUT in fact, How it’s going to be Prepared.  Very important.  Think of my little fish up here, while it’s white yes – a white wine does NOT necessarily apply to this dish – it’s the preparation behind it’s serving.  Will you smoke it, pan fry it, grill it or broil it?

Here’s a fish (below that my mother-in-law had to catch for us!) that could be smoked~a good ole Minnesota Northern.  Growing up in Wisconsin, my mom would smoke these little buggers.  Smoking a fish adds an element that it unlike no other.  Leslee Peg's Pike

While a beer seems to be a pretty good pairing, here are a couple of goodies for pairing to that smoke factor with your fish, along with some other preparation pairings.

Smoked:  Dry Chardonnay (choose a French Burgundian for a more dry style), Sancerre (a French Sauvignon Blanc), a Dry Riesling (German Kabinett) or even a wonderfully dry Sherry (Fino or Manzanilla).  If one were to smoke a salmon:  A Perfect Pairing ~ A New World Pinot Noir (meaning any Pinot outside of the EU)

Grilling Solutions:  A wonderful Rosé – I love so many of these beautiful Ribera Del Duero Rosés – head over to Solo Vino in St Paul for some of the Twin Cities best rosé selections.  Again, a Pinot Noir would be wonderful (choose one with a bit of barrel to it – smokey tasting).  Or better yet – a Fabulous Grenache – now that would be a match made in heaven.  French or Spanish for your Grenache will do.

Blackened:  Beer, yes beer is key here but… Pinot Noir again (this time pick an Oregonian!)  How about a wonderful Syrah?  I wouldn’t go Shiraz (Aus or South Africa, too heavy) but maybe a fun Washington Syrah.  And, I love Chenin Blanc with a blackened fish – yum!

Broiled:  How bout a wonderful Alsatian Pinot Gris, or better yet – a fun Sparkling wine?  Fresh but NOT sweet.  Maybe one northern Italy and one that won’t break the bank – Prosecco?

Broiled with Butter:  Here’s your chance to have that big Butter Oaky Chardonnay from the New World!

Pan Fried:  Sauvignon Blanc with a white fish seems to be my favorite

Also – consider this… Is your Fish Steaky?  If you were having an Ahi Steak, I recommend an Italian wine that grows coast side or even, a Sicilian or a Croatian Wine?  

Remember that line:  What Grows Together, Goes Together!   Here’s your chance to apply the notion.  Ahi ~ from Sicily, drink a fun inexpensive Nero d’Avola.  A swordfish steak – remember your preparation method first – but if you were to add fresh tomatoes and litely grill it – a delicious Sangiovese from Tuscany!

See, not that hard right?  Pairing is fun when you just think it through – Step by Step!

Of course, your Labor Day Weekend will include other ventures like S’More Making (Pick a fun Zinfandel from Dry Creek, Cali to pair) or Throwing a Frisbee (I love Sauvignon Blanc for these activities – any region will do), Reading a Book Lakeside (How about a Bubble? I Love Pac NW Bubbly, like Argyle, for this occasion) and well, how about Cruising Shoreline in your Canoe (I pick Pinot, or better yet – a fun, lite hearted Barbera from the Piedmont region of Italy). 

Leslee's Kissing FishThere you have it – from Fish to Fun with all these Yummy Labor Day Wine Pairings.  After all, it’s summer last hooray, right?  Live it up and oh yeah, don’t forget the Beer, too!  Happy Labor Day!

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