Last night’s dinner was meant to be eaten with an Alsatian-style Pinot Gris. We were making a fish tagine with an Omani spice mix of coriander, cumin, cardamom, mace, black pepper, red pepper, nutmeg, and something unidentified, to which we added garlic. The dish would be fairly light, with aromatic spices and a touch of heat – thus the Pinot Gris. Well, we didn’t have any Pinot Gris. What we did have was an open bottle of 2008 Karamoor Estate Merlot from Fort Washington, PA. Merlot did not immediately spring to mind as a good pairing for the dish, but it was open!
Surprisingly – to me – the Karamoor turned out to be a very good paring with the meal. This was in part because the dish turned out to have more strength than I anticipated. But, it also had to do with the wine.
This Merlot has notes of forest fruits, blackberry, and mushroom in a big, strong, body that I did not think would lend itself to a “delicate” dish. But, it has the pronounced, soft tannins typical of Merlot, with very balanced acidity, that tempers some of its muscle. There are also some floral qualities in the wine that complemented the Omani spice-mix.
Sadly, the open bottle only had 2 glasses remaining in it and so was finished quickly along with the meal. Fortunately we had another wine with a dominant Merlot presence, and also from Pennsylvania. The Huntress Red from Galer Estate is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Petit Verdot. The Merlot dominates the palate and the feel. Merlot’s velvety touch was apparent in the soft tannins, and the mouth showed plenty of cocoa, white pepper, and dark fruit. This wine is a little lively on the tongue – making an interesting contrast to the roundness. It finishes long and tasty. I’m not sure how it would have fared with the fish dish, but it tastes absolutely awful with jelly beans!