fume blanc

Corn on the Cob with Wine

When I picture corn on the cob, I immediately think of the 1980s romantic comedy film "Big."  There's a scene in the movie where Tom Hanks' character arrives at a swanky party in a white tuxedo.  When confronted with baby corn, he attempts to eat it from side to side instead of just consuming it whole.  As with the film "Alice in Wonderland," I loved to re-enact scenes from movies as they played on the TV and begged my grandmother to buy baby corn.  I think she didn't mind since it was one way of getting me to eat my veggies.  As soon as the scene was about to play, I'd hit pause and run to the kitchen.  Then, as my grandmother lay on the couch waiting for the movie to begin again, I'd grab the baby corn in my hand and resume the film.  I would often ask if she wanted to play along with me but her response was always, "No honey, you go ahead."  I always felt there was something extra special about pretending to be a part of the movie as I watched it.  I loved the idea of being someone else and the movie "Big" was the ultimate child fantasy of having everything a kid could ever want.  Too bad I didn't have the walking piano in my living room to play "Chopsticks" along with Tom Hanks.  I instinctively knew my grandmother wasn't going to run out to the store and buy it for me.  So in my typical fashion, I'd just jump around on the floor and pretend that I had one.  Being a kid who constantly lived in a fantasy world is one of the things I miss most about childhood.  Although, enjoying a glass of wine with corn on the cob has definitely got to be better!

I love corn on the cob when it's piping hot, dripping with butter.  When thinking of what wine to pair with corn on the cob, my first thought was to grab a buttery Chardonnay.  I figured the butter found both on top of the corn and as a texture/flavor component of the wine would play nicely off each other.  I also picked up a bottle of Fume Blanc, which is really just Sauvignon Blanc dressed up in a different name and generally from California.  Typically, Fume Blanc is a Sauvignon Blanc that has spent time in oak ("fume" means smoked).  Sauvignon Blanc is a great wine to pair with veggies because of its inherent vegetal character and it's high acidity.  So now comes the taste test.  To my amazement, the Fume Blanc clearly works better with the food than the buttery Chardonnay.  After a bite of the food and then a sip of the wine, I notice the Fume Blanc balances the saltiness and sweetness of the corn.  Although it's full-bodied, Sauvignon Blanc's naturally high acidity stands up to the salt and washes the butter flavors off the palate.  Fume Blanc grown in California has a higher alcohol content than most Sauvignon Blancs from France due to a warmer climate.  This high alcohol mirrors the butteriness of the food that I was looking for from the Chardonnay and has the fruit content to mirror the sweetness of the corn.  The buttery Chardonnay that I mentioned lacks that inherent acidity found in the Fume Blanc and the vegetal character associated with it.  The wine seems somewhat bitter on the finish due to high oak and not enough fruit.  I think if we would have grilled the corn on the barbecue, the char on the food would have worked better with the Chardonnay. It was a fun taste test of one of my favorite summer foods.  And yes, I ate my corn from left to right just like I did when I was imitating the movie "Big!"  Cheers!

Wine featured in this photo: 2008 Grgich Hills Fume Blanc