Thursday, November 12, 2009

#2 - Church Cookbook Chicken Lasagna & '08 Castle Rock Pinot Noir

Now for our first installment of pairing terrible food with cheap wine.

Church Cookbook Weekly died a quick death over at the BRE but one recipe still had to be made.

Food: Chicken Lasagna

Barely lasagna as the only thing included that also is included in actual lasagna is lasagna noodles, it's basically a garbage casserole. Chicken, cheddar cheese, stuffing (?), a can of cream of chicken soup and paprika. Notice. Tomatoes in any form are not included.

Thursday is quick-and-easy food night. It's our Monday in the Ney household. But it was nice out and the Bears were on (it affects business, not because I wanted to watch the putrid performance) so I took the night off.

We wandered through a few pairing ideas (cheap Italian, value Burgundy) before coming to the time-honored understanding that you can't put lipstick on a pig. Food that we'll most likely regret after putting it in our mouths should be paired with wine in the same price realm.


Wine: 2008 Castle Rock Pinot Noir Willamette Valley - $12 Trader Joe's

Castle Rock Winery makes basically every varietal wine all over the West Coast with Trader Joe's being one of their biggest retailers. They target the low-end price point, try to bring value and largely succeed in that. On Vino plans to a Trader Joe's value wine feature soon.

On the nose, I got pumpernickel. Never got that so obviously before in a wine. Fruit comes off as what you would expect from a lower-end Willamette Valley Pinot Noir - darker cherry and a bit of red raspberry with a little cinnamon and something approaching a floral note. No surprises.

But with this wine, it's in what you didn't get for the price. No odd greenish, stemmy quality, no medicinal note and no screwed-up tannins, fulfilling the basic definition of a value Oregon Pinot Noir. You could easily do worse.

Pairing: Meh

But it wasn't the wine's fault. Church Cookbook Chicken Lasagna has shut the door on our brief dalliance with canned soup for kitsch purposes. I feel like crap right now.

Essentially, we settled on Pinot Noir because of the stuffing, consulting an excellent basic pairing guide given by WineSense that details what wine grape pairs with things like herbs, meat, cheese, etc.. It's valuable as a nice starting point. Check it out. Sage with pinot noir? Stuffing? (?) No tomatoes? Sure, why not?

While we recognized the low acidity level in the lasagna from the recipe, the finished product offered no acid at all, making the pairing dead on arrival.

But there was some interplay. An herbal note kicked up in the wine from the stuffing and the food did negate a slight syrupy quality that we got from the wine on its own. Also, anything heavier would have been just awful.

Lesson: If you're going to have terrible food and are going to drink wine - be mindful of body, try to match herbs and for all that is holy, don't spend.

Better yet, just avoid terrible food.

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