The theme for the February Wine Pairing Weekend (#winePW), naturally enough, is “It’s All About Romance – Food + Wine Pairings.” So, how do we define a romantic food and wine pairing? For us, it’s something indulgent, rich and spicy. It wasn’t too difficult for us to decide on the food pairing actually. The inspiration for this pairing came from a wine tasting we enjoyed back in June.
At that time, we participated in an online tasting of wines from Hungary. One of the wines we tasted was a dry Furmint produced by Erzsébet Pince. It was crisp, a bit spicy with stone fruit flavors and nice minerality. We both loved the wine. This was our first experience with the variety as a dry wine, and we discussed at the time that it could be a nice pairing with Chicken Paprikas.
Back in June though, the weather was way too warm to consider preparing such a rich dish. Now however it’s cool, and we’ve even had a bit of rain, so it’s the perfect time (and temperature) to prepare Chicken Paprikas.
If you search for Chicken Paprikas (or Paprikash if you prefer) recipes you will find a long list to choose from. There seem to be as many versions of this comforting dish as there are cooks. The recipe I use is one that reminds me of a dish I enjoyed years ago in a Hungarian restaurant in San Francisco. It is simple to prepare, uses only a few ingredients but is big in flavor.
Many Chicken Paprikas recipes call for only sweet paprika, this recipe uses both. I also add a bit more hot Hungarian paprika than the recipe calls for. We like the additional heat combined with the rich sour cream flavors. And be certain to use only imported Hungarian paprika. It’s the star of the dish and must be flavorful.
Because I prefer to have lots of thick gravy as part of the dish I add extra butter and flour to produce enough thick gravy to suit me, and I add extra sour cream too. This recipe is a total indulgence.
Extra gravy is required because I wouldn’t think of preparing Chicken Paprikas without also making German spaetzle, those delicious little German egg noodles. I remember my grandmother making them. She scraped the dough off the edge of a wooden board into boiling water. Then she scooped them out of the water with a strainer and smothered them in butter (which she also made herself). Grandma often made them when the meal included a gravy, which is why they are so perfect with Chicken Paprikas.
As you might imaging, my grandmother did not have a written recipe for spaetzle. It was in her head and she just mixed eggs, flour and milk together. So, I have tried several recipes over the years and finally found one that gives me the consistency that seems familiar. Grandma never added herbs or black pepper to her spaetzle either, but both are delicious additions, which I sometimes make. Oh, and I always double this recipe, because they’re so darn delicious.
Fortunately the importer and distributor of the Erzsébet Pince is located in California. We looked through the website and ordered both the 2010 and 2011 Erzsébet Pince Király dűlő. We tasted the 2011 during the prior tasting and were curious to taste the difference an additional year of bottle aging might have made. We received the wines in just a few days’ time.
Furmint is a white grape indigenous to the Tokaj region of Hungary where it is widely planted. Though many of us are unfamiliar with this variety, according to Robinson et al in Wine Grapes, it is a half-sibling to Riesling, Chardonnay and Gamay Noir.
Winemaking has a long history in Hungary and vineyards there were first classified in the 1720s as first, second, third class vineyards. This pre-dates the Bordeaux classification by more than 100 years.
2010 Erzsébet Pince Király dűlő Furmint — medium yellow in the glass with delicate pear aromas. Citrus, pear, apple and dry-stone minerality all combine with nice acidity for a complex flavor. The finish is fairly long with minerality and a hint of baking spice. ABV 12.5%
2011 Erzsébet Pince Király dűlő Furmint — lighter yellow in the glass with spice and pear aromas. Tart pineapple, citrus and stony minerality combine with tongue-tingling acidity for very fresh combination of flavors. This wine is bright, energetic and lively. ABV 13%
Both of these wines are 100% Furmint, harvested from Király dűlő (the King’s vineyard). This single-vineyard designate is produced from a vineyard classified as first class with beneficial south-facing slopes and is made in a low-intervention style. The grapes were gently pressed, using a tradition press, and fermented in second and third-fill Hungarian oak barrels.
Erzsébet Pince, which translates to Elizabeth Cellar, is located in the Mád district of Tokaj, up in the northeastern portion of Hungary. The Prácser family farms 30 acres of indigenous Tokaj varieties including Furmint, Kabar, Sárgamuskotály, Hárslevelű, and Kövérszőlő. Total annual production is less than 8,000 bottles.
Websites for both the winery and the importer/distributor contain very interesting history of the winery and Hungarian wine production. It is worth reading, and makes me thankful that Katy found and imported these very special wines.
In a word…divine! The chicken paprikas was spicy, buttery and rich. Paprika is the most wonderful spice and it dominates the flavors in this dish. The heat and spice is tempered somewhat by the sour cream which also adds body and fatty goodness. The spaetzle is there to soak up the liquid goodness of the sauce and I could hardly stop eating it.
The 2010 has less appreciable acid, so this wine is easier to just sip on its own. The brilliant acid of the 2011 makes it a perfect partner for this dish or any fatty, buttery meal. Both bottles were equally empty at the end of the evening, always an indicator that we liked both wines equally.
As is the case with many white wines, both held up nicely over the next couple of nights as we enjoyed them with leftovers. Our Hungarian romance continued for several evenings.
It’s All About Romance Wine Pairing Weekend # 9 Bloggers are listed below: please be sure to check out what my fellow bloggers have come up with for the February Wine Pairing Weekend!
- #WinePW Clear to See by Dancing Veggies
- Bubbles & Boulud by Confessions of a Culinary Diva
- Champagne and Oysters for Valentines’ Day by Enoflyz Wine Blog
- Chocolate Pots de Creme paired with Port Wine by Curious Cuisiniere
- Fettuccine Primavera Avec Mon Coeur by Cooking Chat
- Fizzy Fun at Your Romantic Brunch by Food Wine Click
- Gimme a Man With Mussels: Romantic Pairings from Eola Hills & Oregon’s Coast by TastingPour
- Italian Valentine sweets: Sprisolana & Recioto della Valpolicella by Vino Travels
- Let’s talk Romance by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Recipe for Refueling Romance, Salmon Frittata and Michelle Sparkling Brut Rose by Wild 4 Washington Wine
- Risotto all’Amarone + Masi Campofiorin 2009 by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Wine, Food and Love with #WinePW by Rockin Red Blog
Join the #winePW conversation: Follow the #winePW conversation on Twitter throughout the weekend and beyond. If you’re reading this early enough, you can join us on Saturday, February 14, from 8 to 9 am Pacific Standard Time.
You can also visit our group Pinterest board to pin some great pairing ideas for later! Stay tuned for the March Wine Pairing Weekend, which will be on Saturday, March 14, 2015