What the hell do you pair with rabbit in mustard sauce with sour cream, bacon, fennel, onions and sauerkraut pierogis...and a freakin' gremolata?
I mean...what the hell?
What do you jam into this?
Red was right out (though I think a funky Pinot Noir might have been at least intriguing). A dry white? Nope. Not a chance. It would get buried.
Our thought process started with bringing some sugar from the wine to deal with the sauerkraut and mustard. Seemed like the right place to start.
We weren't necessarily wrong.
Food: Rabbit in mustard sauce with lightly-smoked bacon, sour cream and herbs with sauerkraut pierogis and asparagus
Recipe from David Tanis, a chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley (a good day for us two years ago - Chez Panisse for lunch and French Laundry for dinnner).
The rabbit came out a little tough but nonetheless delicious. Lightly sweet, a little gamey and more tasty as a baseline flavor for the rest of the ingredients. A fennel and onion accompaniment helped things along quite nicely and a fennel green, mint, lemon zest and walnut oil gremolata brought some great bite.
Came off a bit cassoulet-ish in a great way, even if the amount of meat offered by the rabbit fell a bit short.
The sauerkraut pierogis from West Side Market in Cleveland had a shockingly mellow sauerkraut punch that was more welcomed than I anticipated. With a bit of the gremolata or a little of the fennel-onion-sour cream-bacon sauce goop, they were something that I'll be craving a week from now out of the blue at some random hour on a Tuesday.
We didn't touch the asparagus. Enough fiber came on Tuesday with the tuna Niçoise.
Wine: 2002 Dirler-Cade Tokay Pinot Gris ($33 - Cellar Rat) & 2008 Cuvée Michel Léon Gewürztraminer ($10 - Trader Joe's)
Tough call. A well-crafted Riesling (2006 Prager Bodenstein?) might have befit the meal better. The meal played slightly above the wine. But we brought the sugar.
The Dirler did just that. We could tell it was on the downslope but it still brought sufficient vibrancy. Dryish with a backbone of sweetness showing some apricot notes and hints of lemon meringue. Some honey and white tea with a pleasing mouthfeel that coated just enough. A solid wine in the best sense. Danced on the tongue while still tasting a wee old.
The Trader Joe's Gewürztraminer, for its price, played in the same range. It was half as good at less than a third of the price. Sure, it was all gewürztraminer-y but it pulled back on that at the right points and had a pleasant citrus-spice candy quality to it. This comes from the same private label that supplies Trader Joe's with the excellent-for-its-price Muscadet and Pouilly-Fumé. By itself, it wasn't great.
With the food...
Pairing: 88 Much better than expected
As I said, tough call. I liked the Dirler 14% better. It was right and proper, well-crafted, lively and went well overall with everything. But the Gewürztraminer was better with the sauerkraut pierogis. That wee bit more sugar played more friendly with the sauerkraut. And actually, on the whole, it settled down the cloying notes that came when drank by itself after food was offered.
We tried the Stift Goettweig Grüner Veltliner (my idea) but it didn't last ten minutes with the food.
But the subtle dryness offered from the Dirler made for a bit of a struggle with the food compared to the basic sweetness of the Michel Léon that cut through a lot in a nice way.
I think I'd always pick the Dirler if given the choice. It had that 'it' factor while being borderline elegant. But before trying this gewürztraminer from Trader Joe's, I wouldn't have given it a chance.
Really, it's not bad at all, especially with food.
Check that. Only with food because who wants to drink Gewürztraminer by itself.