I’ve always argued that wine goes with pretty much everything. Crisp champagne with deep-fried chicken. Fruity pinot noir if you put ketchup on your burger, spicy zinfandel if you prefer mustard.
Powerful, sweet red port with fudge brownies. You get the picture.
But I get a certain amount of push back on this idea. Quick story: I do the wine recommendations for national cookbook author Linda Gassenheimer’s “Food News & Views” radio show on WLRN (91.3 FM), the National Public Radio affiliate in Miami.
Gassenheimer is always trying to stump me with her guests. Like what wine can I recommend when she interviews the woman who runs the local elementary school lunch program? Or an exotic Thai chef who laces her red curry shrimp with dozens of those tiny-but-terrifying bird’s-eye chilis?
On a recent week Gassenheimer thought she had me – inviting an expert on ice cream. I can just see her rubbing her hands: “Fred’ll never find a wine match for ice cream.”
Not so fast, Gassenheimer. I’ve done some serious homework, and there are all kinds of wonderful wine-with-ice-cream pairings. Here are some examples:
• Homemade, ripe peach ice cream with a glass of the 2006 Far Niente “Dolce” Dessert Wine, Napa Valley (80 percent sémillion, 20 percent sauvignon blanc): golden amber hue, with intensely sweet flavors of oranges, honey, vanilla and pears, created when the “noble rot” called botrytis pokes holes in the grapes’ skins, letting out the juice, concentrating the sugars and acids. It’s $64 per half bottle.
• Rum raisin ice cream with Nonvintage Gonzalez Byass Pedro Ximenez “Dulce” Sherry, Andalucia, Spain: viscous, intensely sweet, with burnt sugar aromas and flavors of raisins and figs. The Pedro Ximenez grapes, picked extra ripe, are laid on mats in the sun to evaporate most of their juices, leaving sugars and acids. The wine tastes just like the raisins in the ice cream. In Spain, they pour this wine over the ice cream like chocolate sauce. It’s $18 per bottle.
• Strawberry ice cream with the 2011 Banfi “Rosa Regale” Brachetto d’Acqui red wine from Italy: soft and fizzy and sweet, with strawberry flavors of its own; $20.
• Deep, dark double-chocolate ice cream with Nonvintage Cockburn’s Special Reserve Port, Portugal: powerful, fortified with grape brandy and very sweet, with black cherry and black plum flavors; $15.
• Orange Italian gelato with the 2011 Paul Jaboulet Aine Muscat de Beaumes de Venise dessert wine: golden orange color, intensely sweet, with aromas and flavors of oranges, honey and cloves; $27.
• Lime sorbet with Nonvintage Domaine Ste. Michelle Extra Dry Sparkling Wine, Columbia Valley, Wash.: lightly sweet wine with golden delicious apple flavors. Chill the wine, put it in a blender with the sorbet and make a smoothie. Top with ripe strawberry slices and mint leaves. It’s $11.
Finally, just to show Gassenheimer I can do this with one hand tied behind my back, here are ice cream pairings for sake, beer and scotch.
• Coconut ice cream with Ty Ku Coconut Nigori Sake: the sake is sweet and silky, cloudy with rice and infused with coconut. Sweet with sweet, coconut with coconut. It’s $20.
• Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Rogue Ales’ Chocolate Stout, Oregon: nearly black in color, tall, tan head, bittersweet chocolate flavors from chocolate malts and the infusion of real chocolate in the brewing process. Pour the stout, plop in two scoops of the ice cream and you have a perfect adult dry and lightly alcoholic float; $6 per 22-ounce bottle.
Finally, scotch: Scoop a big bowl of vanilla bean ice cream and top it with a jigger of scotch – cheap scotch will do fine here – and a teaspoon of finely ground, dark-roasted Cuban espresso coffee beans.
This should give courage to all wine drinkers. It shows they can make us grow old, but they can’t make us grow up.