Jalapeno Poppers with Wine

I have to be honest.  Up until recently, I had never tried a jalapeno popper in my life.  Boy was I missing out!  And if you're wondering just exactly what a jalapeno popper is, let me be the first to introduce you to this tasty little snack.  It's a jalapeno that's filled with cheddar cheese, breaded and then fried.  Delicious!  And this makes me wonder, what else have I missed out on?  As I've mentioned in previous posts, I always order what I know I like on the menu of any establishment for fear of being disappointed.  And out of the blue this little bite of goodness has suddenly turned my world upside down.  No more playing it safe.   From here on out, it's time to be a little adventurous!

This snack encompasses three of my favorite things.  A little spice, creaminess and crunch.  And after trying several wines alongside it, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc blows the roof off on all the others.  Sauvignon Blanc is grown in many parts of the world.  It does particularly well in France, Australia, Chile, South Africa, California and New Zealand.  What New Zealand versions offer that others don't is a zingy crisp acidity.  This acidity works amazingly with fried food, helping to cut through the grease.  Since jalapeno poppers are fried, we have a great combination.  The acidity also cuts through the creaminess of the cheese and helps the wine stand up to the spicy flavors in the food.  Sauvignon Blanc is vegetal and citrusy, allowing it to work wonderfully off the greenness of the jalapeno.  After a bite of the food and then a sip of the wine, I notice the jalapeno flavor is heightened and the wine suddenly seems slightly sweet.  Other wines to try with jalapeno poppers are German Riesling and Gewurztraminer, Albarino, Gruner Veltliner, Chenin Blanc, sparkling wine, and off-dry white wines.  Avoid wines that are too high in alcohol.  This will increase the intensity of the spice.

Potato Skins with Wine

Getting kids to eat pea's can be a laborious task.  Potatoes on the other-hand are never a problem.  Whether they're fried, baked, mashed, roasted, scalloped, diced or sliced...they're delicious!  Maybe this is why I always liked the toy Mr. Potato Head so much.  He's been entertaining kids since the 1950's with his attachable plastic parts and recently starred in Toy Story 3.  I enjoyed putting his ears where his nose went and his eyes where his mouth went as a child.  It's incredible that a simple toy like this entertained us as children, when we've got toys like the Wii and computer games today.  One thing hasn't changed however, and that's how much we all enjoy potatoes.  Potato skins especially are a great appetizer while watching the game at home, or your favorite bar and enjoying a perfectly paired glass of wine.

I prefer my potato skins fully loaded with extra bacon, cheddar cheese, scallions, chives and a touch of sour cream.  Did I mention BACON!!  There are several wines that work with this dish.  Spanish red wines such as a blend based on Garnacha and Syrah grapes, Syrah itself, and New World Pinot Noir can work beautifully with potato skins.  The wine's themselves have a bacon quality that mirror's the bacon in the dish.  Together, you have a bacon explosion in the mouth!  In addition the bacon fat and cheddar cheese will help to shield the palate from the tannin found in the heavier reds I mentioned, such as Syrah.  Please be careful with the use of sour cream when pairing the wines I have suggested.  Too much sour cream can ruin the wine because some of the wines lack acidity to stand up to it.  If you are a sour cream lover, I would suggest pairing the potato skins with an Oregon Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Alsatian Pinot Gris, Spatlese Riesling, brut sparkling Rose, Rose or brut sparkling wine.