Monthly magazine of the Federation of NOT Scientific and Technical Associations

30th edition of the Golden Engineer poll

Wine for the Engineer (279): Viognier to halibut

I’ve written about the Viognier varietal before in Review…, so I won’t repeat myself; however, I must remind you that it yields wines that are well suited for pairing with a variety of foods. I’ve already drunk it with mild poultry dishes, but it’s just as good with, for example, slightly tweaked halibut. About the details in a moment.

Viognier wines have always seemed joyful to me; they have a rounded structure, and their aroma, while not always intense, will satisfy even the most demanding noses. Someone once said that it’s kind of like a cross between riesling and chardonnay, and there’s probably something to that. Evan Goldstein wrote of the varietal that it combines the creamy, rather rich structure of chardonnay, the balanced acidity of the best sauvignons and a flavor profile that could be bestowed on gewuerztraminer, riesling and chardonnay simultaneously.

Viognier generally ages poorly, so it should be drunk young. Such wines from this strain are best matched with dishes with a hint of sweetness, such as Moroccan-style chicken, long braised chicken with garlic, lemon and cinnamon, or trout stuffed with raisins. The combination of Viognier with simmered vegetables, pasta and grains is also sure to play well. The suggestion of slow cooking is not accidental here – the idea is to let the ingredients or additives have time to caramelize, because then they will form an unforgettable pair with Viognier.

It might seem that Viognier would not go well with sharper, more robustly flavored dishes, but this is actually not necessarily the case. It all depends on what we add to these dishes. And here let’s go back to the already mentioned halibut – it’s a fish with a very definite, sharp and completely unsweet taste. Well, okay, but how about adding an orange and some mint to it?

Halibut is best baked in the oven. The fillets (which can still be bought quite cheaply at least at discount stores) simply sprinkle with salt and pepper, then place in a greased baking dish and bake for 12-15 minutes. Until browned. Those who don’t want to “fire up” the oven can put the fillets on the grill; but then they must first be rubbed solidly with olive oil. Grilling time – 5 min each. Per page. Those eating particularly dietary can also cook halibut, not only in water, but also in white wine. Cooking time should not exceed 7 minutes.

Well, okay, but still the dish does not show the sweet notes mentioned earlier. These will be taken care of by the salsa we make for this fish – a green sauce with onion, mint, orange zest, olive oil and orange and lemon juice. We need to season this salsa to taste and leave it for several hours – so it’s better to prepare it long before getting down to halibut. And when the fish is ready – pour this sauce over it. Lick fingers, especially when paired with Viognier wine.

Instead of halibut, of course, you can take salmon, and replace the mint in the salsa with fresh basil. This dish can also be supplemented with asparagus or beans from the water. The bridge that will provide a good flavor combination with the wine in either case is orange peel and the juice of this fruit.

Viognier wines can come from both the Old and New World. It seems that for halibut the former would be slightly better, because the sweet note in them is not so intense and the dish will not seem sour with them. I can recommend, for example, the Languedoc Chateau de Pennautier Viognier; but if one would prefer the New World, reach for the Chilean Casa Silva Lolol Viognier. Cheers!

wine geek