When you think about Scandinavian food, what are the first things that come to mine? Salmon, dill, almond, cardamom, berries, mushrooms, potatoes, pickled herring, apples–and that’s just a starting place. The food of Scandinavia is guided by tradition as well as geography and the seasons, resulting in a variety of regional cuisines with no shortage of seafood, game, cakes, cookies, dairy, and produce that varies widely throughout the year. As rich as Scandinavian cuisine can be, it’s not typically one of the top ones for wine pairings. After all, what kind of wine would really go well with pickled herring?
At a wine pairing session this weekend at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle, I decided to get to the bottom of wine pairings for Scandinavian food. I asked chef John Sarich, culinary director at Chateau Ste. Michelle, what he’d pair with Scandinavian food. Riesling, Riesling, Riesling, he repeated as I listed some of the hallmark flavors in many dishes–salmon, dill, horseradish, potatoes. And then I stumped him with pickled herring. Sure enough, my suspicions were right: Don’t even try, stick with aquavit and beer. But I’m intrigued by the Riesling pairing. Much Riesling is too sweet for my palate so I rarely consider it. But as I’ve been mulling over the flavors of both the food and this particular wine (especially the drier ones), I think he’s onto something.
What about you? What do you like to pair–wine or otherwise–with your favorite Scandinavian foods?
Full disclosure: Although I paid my way to the conference, there were plenty of free things handed our way, including a cookbook from Sarich and a discount on the conference for people blogging about it. Just thought you should know.