James Beard Award Outstanding Wine Program Nominees

May 4, 2012 | By | Comments (0)

Raise a glass to these two Southern James Beard Award nominees in the Outstanding Wine Program category. We’ve asked them to make pairing recommendations for some of our favorite Southern dishes.

(Go to jamesbeard.org to purchase tickets to the awards event on Monday, May 7th in NYC. If you can’t attend, check in on the live stream, broadcast from the website, or follow announcements on twitter @beardfounation or from our own Features Editor, Jennifer Cole @jennifervcole.)

Photo: Courtesy of Blackberry Farm

Andy Chabot
The Barn at Blackberry Farm
Walland, TN

Shrimp and Grits: While it may seem simple to answer this with a white wine, I am hard pressed to keep my hands off of the dry rosé wines in our cellar to pair with this dish this time of year. Particularly a rosé wine from Southern France, where you might just see similar dishes focused on fresh Shellfish. This year, I’ve loved pouring and tasting the rosés from Domaine Ott. They are very light in color, dry, refreshing and simply enjoyable.

BBQ: My favorite pairing with BBQ (and it’s great with all styles – North Carolina through Texas) is a Kabinett Level German Riesling. It has the high levels of acidity needed to refresh the palate. It is low in alcohol, giving it a more quaffable quality than other wines which seems to always be important when enjoying BBQ and the slight sweetness of the wine is both immediately enjoyable and a balance to the rich smoky and meaty qualities of BBQ.

Fried Chicken: Champagne is the simple answer here. Particularly a great, Chardonnay dominated Champagne. This can be fun because you can really put a top champagne on the table if your budget allows for it and pair it with something that brings it down off of its pedestal and pairs well with it. A Chardonnay dominated Champagne is important to me because it has more brightness and acidity to balance the salty, crunchy and rich chicken and to lighten up the entire experience. There’s something incredibly pleasing about Champagne and fried food. It’s as unexpected as it is great together.


Photo: Courtesy of Emeril's 

Ray Gumpert
New Orleans, LA

Gumbo: BEER! That is a frequently asked question, especially here in New Orleans and a good cold beer is the obvious answer. However, wine can also match very well with gumbo, despite what people may think. I usually suggest a slightly sweet old world wine, with high acidity and low alcohol to ensure that the heat will be cut with the wines acidity and not made spicier with alcohol content. Also, sweet and spicy always work well together. I think the 2009 Pierre Spaar Riesling from Alsace would work great.

Fried Soft Shell Crab: This is a dish that would pair well with a few different wines, but I think above all else a Champagne would be the best. Preferably Chardonnay based. The high acidity in the wine would cut through the fattiness of the fried crab, while not overwhelming the sweet and delicate crab meat. Awesome Match! The Taittinger "La Française" Reims Brut would be also be a delicious and elegant match.

Peach Cobbler: I think that a simple and floral Moscato d’Asti from Piedmont would work magically. The peach notes in the nose and palate of this slightly sparkling white would complement the peach in the dish, and still be light and fresh considering that it is at the end of the meal and a syrupy desert wine may be a little much.The 2010 Saracco Moscato d'Asti is an affordable favorite of mine that everyone always falls in love with. 





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