Mr. B&B and I had breakfast with Cynthia Cosco of Passaggio Wines recently as we left Sonoma County for the Oakland airport. Passaggio translates to passageway and is a tribute to her Italian ancestors who four generations ago, came to America. Cindy shares her passion for winemaking with her grandfather who took great joy in sharing his wine with neighbors, friends and family. She spoke of growing up in an Italian home where there always wine and food; thus, she makes her wines to be enjoyed with food (a crisp style with zippy yet balanced acidity) and to bring wine, food and friends together. The true testament to her winemaking passion is the fact she left a 14-year career in Virginia law enforcement to pursue her winemaking dream, starting at the bottom.
I grew up with a Chinese mother who came to America when she was fourteen-years-old. Wine in our home was rarely served, mainly at holidays, so when I did begin to drink wine it was as a stand-alone beverage. While I enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, I still choose my wines for their ability to stand-alone (usually robust with lower acidity) and those are not always the best food pairing wines. I like to have my glass(es) of wine before, during and after the preparation of the food. To give Cindy’s Passaggio white wines their due, we decided to design our own food pairing meal.
The Passaggio 2010 Unoaked Chardonnay ($19) is stainless steel fermented with no malolactic second fermentation. Cindy’s notes state that the Chardonnay tastes of citrus and lemon with hints of tropical fruit and a bit more acidity than most Chardonnays. It pairs well with fish or chicken and oysters and pasta with white sauce.
The 2010 Pinot Grigio ($18) and has a crisp long finish with tastes of citrus, pear and green apple. It should be paired with grilled or baked chicken, seafood and pizza and pasta dishes with a white sauce. Now to work on my food pairing with the items I have on-hand in the pantry and refrigerator. I am trying to avoid going out in the freezing Denver weather with predicted possible snow flurries on this Sunday afternoon.
Since we were sampling the wine as I prepare the evening meal, I decided some nibbles would be in order. First up: Prosciutto, soft Brie, warm sun-dried tomato Goat cheese and crackers. Both wines were enjoyable on their own with a crisp long finish but when paired with the food they really came to life. The Pinot Grigio tastes of pineapple and the Chardonnay of lemon crème pie. Both paired very well with the saltiness of the Prosciutto, the creaminess of the Brie and the tang of the Goat cheese. The Chardonnay took on a much rounder mouth feel when paired with the nibbles. Mr. B&B and I decided to use the Chardonnay in the wine sauce for the scallops. Round one was a success.
As our main course, I prepared scallops in a white wine sauce. The sauce is a reduction of chicken broth, white wine, lemon juice, onion and garlic enriched with a bit of butter. The scallops can either be broiled or simmered in the sauce. I broiled mine because I like a crispy outside (perhaps pan sauté). The scallops were served over a bed of Swiss chard that had been sautéed in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, I think over pasta would be delicious also (I would make double the sauce if you choose pasta, Mr. B&B suggested lemon basil orzo). The recipe was a snap to make and both wines paired fabulously. The additional acidity melded well with the wine sauce and the subtle flavors from stainless steel fermentation did not over-power the scallops. Good job Cindy. The night was a total success.
It was not really a sunny Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio kind of day here in Denver. However, I so enjoyed our breakfast with Cindy, feeling her passion for her wines, the talk of bringing family and friends together over food and wine that I could not wait for warmer weather to give her food pairing wines a try. With the fire blazin’, the predicted flurries becoming something more and dinner completed, we enjoyed the last sips of Chardonnay.