Chatelaine Kitchen

Experiencing Niagara wineries: Top five wine and food pairings

While Ontario grows tons of amazing fruits and vegetables, we also grow terrific wine grapes. Here are some perfect food and wine pairings from that vibrant region.

Peninsula Ridge Estates

Peninsula Ridge Estates (Photo credit: Amy Rosen)

Deer Valley Ranch elk-striploin at Peninsula Ridge Estate

Deer Valley Ranch elk-striploin at Peninsula Ridge Estate (Photo credit: Amy Rosen)

sour cream tart with sorrel ice cream at Hillebrand winery

Sour cream tart with sorrel ice cream at Hillebrand winery (Photo credit: Amy Rosen)

Food and wine pairings at Niagara vineyards

Food and wine pairings at Niagara vineyards (Photo credit: Amy Rosen)

Grape vineyards at Chateau des Champs

Grape vineyards at Château des Champs (Photo credit: Amy Rosen)

I just spent a gorgeous day in Niagara celebrating the good things that grow in Ontario — by eating and drinking them all!  As I traipsed through several wineries —  including zipping through one on a Segway (yes, that happened) —  it suddenly hit me that while Ontario grows tons of amazing fruits and vegetables, we also grow terrific wine grapes, which in turn make great wine matches for the local products. In other words, as it turns out: good things grow at the LCBO!

Based on one very fun and filling day in the region, here’s what I think are some amazing food and wine pairings.
 
1. At Château Des Charmes, I loved ambling through the heaving vineyards with a chilled glass of 2010 Aligoté, St. David’s Bench Vineyard, in hand. Straightforward and crisp with a hint of tart apple, this delicious pioneering grape varietal goes well accompanying a salad with vinaigrette, lightly grilled fresh seafood and even pork belly.
 
2. If you set me adrift and I landed on a desert island, I’d be happy for years, so long as you sent me with a to-go bag crammed with cheese and wine.  And for me, a Riesling— Ontario’s signature grape — like the 2009 Riesling at Château Des Charmes, matches marvelously with blue cheese, brie and gouda.

3. Trius at Hillebrand’s Chef, Frank Dodd, puts together some of the prettiest food you’ll ever see; he uses ingredients sourced within an hour of the vineyard. His sour cream tart with sorrel ice cream had a torched top that perfectly pairs with the crème brulee and vanilla toffee notes in the Trius 2010 Vidal Icewine.
 
4. Apparently the 2010 vintage was one of the best in Niagara history and the 2010 Trius Merlot — expertly decanted in a hand-blown decanter — was a stunning match with Chef Dodd’s 35-day, dry-aged Wellington County ribeye, served with a Riesling sauerkraut and oxtail ravioli — it tasted like a deconstructed pastrami sandwich.
 
5. Sticking with the successful 2010 theme, at the restaurant at Peninsula Ridge Estate —  housed in a handsome historic building— chef Pierre Bourget paired the deeply delicious 2010 Meritage with a stunning Deer Valley Ranch elk-striploin with grainy mustard spaetzle, parsnip-apple purée, Swiss chard and chanterelles — all sauced with a maple red wine jus. A perfect end to a perfect day of perfect local wine pairings.