Please The Palate Pick of the Week: The “A-Ha” Moment of Food and Wine Pairing

I remember the very first time I had that “a-ha” moment with a food and wine pairing. They are not easy to come by. Of course, finding good wine pairings with a dish is not the challenging part, it is finding that elusive pairing in which you just have to pause for a moment and say “oh my!”, “wow” and “A-ha!” When you do have one, you remember it all so clearly. And just this past week, while on a wine trip to the Nahe and Mosel regions of Germany, I had one of those incredible “a-ha” moments during a dinner with winemaker Ernest Loosen of Dr. Loosen wines. That is why it is the Please The Palate pick of the week.

My week was spent exploring the amazing, delicious riesling grape in all of its manifestations – dry, off dry, sweet, sweeter and sweetest. And Ernie Loosen is one of the iconic winemakers of the Mosel, the oldest wine growing region in Germany. And we were lucky to be invited to his home for a tasting and dinner.

It was the final course of the night, our dessert course, that was the “a-ha” moment. The Dr. Loosen 2006 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese was poured. A golden color, it was still vibrant after ten years. It was rich with citrus, orange and nutty notes as well as elegant acidity on the finish.

The wine was paired with goat cheese wrapped in bacon with black walnuts. The black walnuts were sweetened and delicate, almost melting in the mouth.

The acidity of the Auslese riesling cut through the savory bacon and creamy goat cheese and the sweetness of the wine shined through with the sweet black walnuts. This harmonious pairing was utter perfection. Around the table, we “oohed” and “ah-ed” as we each took little bites and sips, hoping to make the experience last longer. I savored every single bite of this “a-ha” moment, recognizing how rare it is to come across.

This is not to say that food and wine pairings are hard to do. The entire dinner was an incredible dining experience. From the ceviche with Dr. L 2016 Riesling Dry to the thinly sliced beet carpaccio topped with smoked trout, shallots and balsamic vinegar, a recipe of Ernie’s grandmother, with Dr. Loosen 2013 Bernkasteler Lay Riesling, to the buttered rye bread topped with chanterelles and bacon with Dr. Loosen 2013 Erdener Prälat Reserve Riesling, the pairings were complimentary, harmonious and thoroughly enjoyable.

But that “a-ha” moment in food and wine pairing does not happen as often as a good food and wine pairing does. And when it does happen, it is a memory that will last forever. That is why the pairing of the bacon wrapped goat cheese with black walnuts and the Dr. Loosen 2006 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Auslese is the Please The Palate pick of the week.