With the Hollywood Bowl season quickly approaching, there is no better time than now to start planning your pre-concert dinner! Whether it is for the July 4th Fireworks Spectacular or the JVC Jazz Festival, planning ahead is always ideal. Take a bite into the night with a gourmet Hollywood Bowl picnic basket for two filled with a savory salad, baguettes, cheeses /charcuteries and wine followed by small sweets.
You do not want to overlook Viognier or you will miss out on its powerful yet delicate taste. This rich, exotic white wine is perfect for food pairings on a warm spring or summer day as it works well with dishes with brighter and fruitier elements due to its fruity flavor profile and texture. It also pairs well with floral herbs like sage or lavender and spicy foods. I strongly recommend the 2012 Qupè Viognier, Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard Edna Valley from San Luis Obispo County. This wine has the classic floral and peach/apricot aromatics that Viognier is known for in addition to its fresh acidity and rich and creamy texture. Make sure to avoid pairing it with lighter dishes that are overly sweet or those with tart or sharp flavors.
When pairing a salad and a wine together, it is important to note that you should pay more attention to the accent flavors instead of the base ingredients of your dish. The key is to match the weight in the dressing to the weight of the wine. Therefore, I always consider my cheese, fruit and nut options when creating a savory salad. Due to Viognier’s fruity character, you can’t go wrong with a salad made with fresh, seasonal fruit and homemade vinaigrette. Vinegar dressings and a rich and creamy low-acidic wine go hand in hand. Therefore, an apple salad prepared with a Bragg’s apple cider vinaigrette, Granny Smith apples, sun dried cherries, and mild Maytag blue cheese crumbles is the perfect salad pairing for a Viognier.
CLASSIC CHEESE / CHARCUTERIE
What’s a picnic basket without a classic cheese and charcuterie pairing? The key is to choose three or four varieties of cheeses to have something suitable to everyone’s palate. Make sure to serve the Viognier chilled and pick one that is young in age, typically two to four years from its bottle date, due to its low acidity. The Qupe Viognier is complemented well by sharp white cheddar, Cashel blue, Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk triple crème, manchego, prosciutto, sweet salami, marcona almonds, marinated olives, and kumquat jam. You can purchase these products from my go-to cheese shop, Cheese Mongers of Sherman Oaks.
When pairing wine with a dessert, it is a rule of thumb that the wine should be at least as sweet as your dessert choice in addition to having an adequate amount of acidity to balance it out. Fresh or dried fruit go great with Viognier. Try a rustic peach and blackberry galette to showcase the fruits of late spring and early summer for a wonderful ending to your night. This is a very forgiving dessert that travels well. Simply grab some seasonal and tasty fruit from your local farmers market and easily adjust the dish’s sweetness and tartness by adding extra sugar or lemon juice to the marinated fruits prior to baking.