In the Test Kitchen, we often find ourselves dreaming up the perfect pairings for our recipes. After all, dinner is an experience, and having the perfect special bottle to open with a meal not only makes it feel extra special, but can also enhance our favorite aspects of a dish. Sometimes, our chefs will even write a recipe with a particular wine or beer pairing in mind. Case in point? Chef Giuseppe’s Prosciutto BLTs, which he pairs with fizzy, ruby-red Lambrusco to cut through the richness of the cured ham and salty blue cheese. Yes, some things really are just better together.
For the week of November 11–17, we’re highlighting three dishes on the menu with beverage pairings to match. For each selected dish, the Test Kitchen sat down and sampled it alongside two potential pairings before choosing a favorite. Take a behind-the-scenes look at our tasting process—and add the recipes to your box!
For this dish, we wanted a beverage pairing that would provide refreshing contrast to the more decadent flavors and textures. The gooey cheese fries and soy and scallion-laced turkey patties both demanded something crisp and bright to cut through the richness without overpowering the kimchi or ginger.
With this criteria in mind, we chose two potential beer pairings to try side-by-side with the dish: a classic IPA, and a Japanese rice lager. With the cheese fries, both pairings hit the spot, lifting the richness of the melty mozzarella and roasted potatoes off the palate so that we kept coming back for more. When it came to the dish as a whole, though, the Japanese rice lager was the fan favorite—its malty, mild sweetness provided the perfect balance for the dish’s rich, salty, and aromatic elements.
Add this recipe to your box to learn more about why we loved this pairing!
A classic pairing for fish—particularly richer fish, like cod—is sparkling wine. We decided on two of our favorite bubblies to try alongside this dish: a dry sparkling wine from California, and a Spanish Brut Cava.
California sparkling wines are known to be bright with mouthwatering acidity, which makes them a great match for many dishes. The bottle we chose was dry in style, with notes of spice and pear that we thought would be a great match for the aromatic seasonings on the cod, as well as the buttery fried almonds. We enjoyed this wine on its own, but felt like it washed away the more delicate flavors of the dish, ultimately proving too overpowering.
The Cava, in comparison, offered more notes of crisp citrus and green apple. We loved the textural match of the bubbles with the cod, but also loved the way the Cava made the dish “pop.” When enjoyed with a sip of the wine, the red bell pepper tasted fruitier, and the cilantro felt brighter—the dish tasted even more vibrant.
Want to learn more about why we loved this pairing? Add the recipe to your box and try it yourself!
This dish channels classic Thanksgiving flavors and textures: rich, creamy butternut squash purée, poultry infused with aromatic rosemary, and rich roasted garlic and red onion. It seemed only fitting, then, that we select a few of our favorite Thanksgiving red wines for pairing inspiration.
First, we tried the dish with a Cabernet Franc, a wine with medium-high acidity and medium tannins that makes it a crowd-pleasing, food-friendly option. We appreciated the way the herbal notes in the wine complemented the rosemary in the dish, but ultimately craved a more fruit-forward wine to pair with the butternut purée.
Next, we tried a cru Beaujolais. Not to be confused with Beaujolais nouveau, cru Beaujolais must hail from 1 of 10 designated areas (or crus) in the French wine region. We particularly loved the wine’s classic notes of ripe raspberry, black cherry, and plum with the butternut purée—the pairing reminded us of a bit of fruity cranberry sauce on a bite of mashed potatoes. We had found our winner.
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