The wines of Dão exude a freshness and vitality that makes them the perfect partners for any number of dishes and culinary styles. We asked sommeliers from coast to coast to give their recommendation for pairings to match various Dão wine styles.
Wine Style: Dão Espumante
Pairing: Ceviche de Bacalhau (Cod)
Sommelier : Lesley Quinn, Prince Edward Island
About the Pairing: Sparkling wine sounds like celebration, the pop of the cork and the fizzle of the wine as it fills our glass demands a toast be made and your glass be raised. But we forget that sparkling wine is also an incredible friend of food. The natural high acidity makes it perfect for seafood. The tingling texture from the bubbles can enliven a silky dish or add an extra pop to a crunchy one. The ripe flavours in a brut bubble can be just the perfect amount of sweet to tame the heat in a spicy course.
The savvy shoppers among us know drinking Champagne every night of the week is just not financially sustainable which is why we have expanded our sparkling shopping to Italy’s Prosecco and Spain’s Cava however allow me to put before you the newest addition to your bubbly lexicon: Portuguese Espumante and even more cachè Espumante from the Dão region of Portugal because I’m down with Dão.
This area of Portugal looks like Gondor from Lord of the Rings with giant granite boulders and mountain ranges on 3 sides. This higher elevation and rocky soils for the vines produce Espumante’s that are bright, tart, and have an excellent mouth-watering effect. They use native grape varieties like Encruzado, Jaen, Cercial and Malvasia-Fina to create crunchy green apple notes and juicy tropical fruit flavours. Just like Cava Dão Espumante’s have a minimum 9-month aging period before release to round out the wine.
What better way to sample a new Portuguese purchase than by creating a magical Dão inspired dish? The most important first step is to pick up an Espumante Bruto from the Dão and some fresh cod (known as Bacalhau in Portugal). Then grab some limes, onions, jalapeños, a mango and some cilantro. That’s right try Dão Espumante with Bacalhau Ceviche for a « close my eyes as they roll back in my head it is so good » moment. The Dão Espumante acts as added citrus to the ceviche and provides an excellent textural treat to this flavourful fish recipe.
Ceviche de Bacalhau
4 to 6 Servings
2 pounds of very very fresh cod fish or frozen, cut into small cubes
4 limes, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 jalapeño, chopped
2 mangoes, cut into cubes
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Pepper, to taste
Directions: Traditionally ceviche is a raw fish dish that is cooked by leaving the fish to marinate in the citrus juice for 1-hour pre consumption. However, if the idea of raw fish makes you at all nervous, here is an excellent alternative so you can still enjoy this fresh and healthy pairing.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and place the fish in the baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil for 12-15 minutes depending on thickness and until flaky and opaque throughout. When the fish is done let it cool completely.
*For some added crunch feel free to use anything from kettle chips to crackers or my personal fave with Dão bubbs plantain chips.
Wine Style: Dão White Blend
Pairing: Grilled Shrimp and Squid with Garlic
Sommelier: Krystina Roman, Ontario
About the Pairing: There's more to Portugal than just Port, with vibrant reds to refreshing yet full-bodied white wines, the famed Dão region located in central Portugal is producing some of the finest wines in Western Europe.
A hidden gem that is gaining in popularity, the rich yet crisp white wines from Dão, led by the delicious Encruzado grape are becoming more well known as excellent food pairing wines. Known for their fresh lemon citrus notes with dry, smooth and rich mouthfeel, the white wine blends of Dão with their fresh stone fruit and white wildflower aromas and are a perfect pairing with grilled seafood and vegetable dishes like grilled shrimp and squid with garlic. Add a spritz of lemon and the dish will explode with flavour along with the wine.
Grilled Shrimp and Squid with Garlic
4 to 6 Servings
4 squid tubes, washed, dried on paper towel
24 medium count shrimp, peeled, deveined
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 lemon, juice
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Lemon wedges, to serve
Directions: Place squid and shrimp in a bowl. Add olive oil, garlic and chili flakes and toss. Set a large grilled pan over medium-heat. Grilled squid and shrimp for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Add lemon juice at last moment and season with salt and pepper. Set on a platter. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with extra lemon wedges.
Wine Style: Dão Single Varietal Encruzado
Pairing: Lemon Butter Baked Cod
Sommelier: Ana Gallegos, Quebec
About the Pairing: The lovely creamy, tropical flavours and tangerine notes of Encruzado are supported by naturally high levels of acidity and minerality, adding freshness to the fish. The typical short aging period in French oak barrels with batonnage (stirring) make for a round texture full of personality and enough weight and power here to stand up to the buttery sauce.
2 lb cod fillet (any white fish)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 tbsp lemon juice
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 F. Pat dry the cod on paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Combine flour and paprika. Set an oven proof pan over medium-heat. Add the butter. When the butter begins to bubble add the cod. Cook until golden brown on each side. Add lemon juice over fish. Place in oven and roast for 3 to 4 minute. Serve with roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
Wine Style: Dão Red Blends
Pairing: Chouriço and Black Beans
Sommelier: Alexandra Allardyce, Manitoba
About the Pairing: Due to higher elevation, red blends from the Dao tend to be lighter bodied and often more elegant than similar blends from its neighbour, the Douro. For this reason, the wines would pair well with this dish; their fruity nature offsets the boldness of the chouriço while the wines’ refreshing acidity cuts through the richness of the black beans and the dish as a whole.
Chouriço and Black Beans
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili flakes
2 cans black beans, drained, rinsed
1 large can diced tomatoes
1/2 lb chouriço, sliced
¼ cup cilantro, diced
Salt, to taste
Directions: Place olive oil in a pot set over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and chilies and sauté until fragrant. Add the chouriço and sauté until browned. Add the beans and tomatoes. Bring to a quick boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Finish with fresh cilantro.
Wine Style: Dão Single Varietal Touriga Nacional
Pairing: Feijoada à Transmontana, recipe from portugueserecipes.ca
Sommelier: Justin Isidro, British Columbia
About the Pairing: Single varietal Torugia Nacional from the Dão usually grows at higher elevations showing a brightness and elegance. The region focuses on finessing the very expressive Touriga Nacional with elevated acidity, finer tannins, and delicate floral aromas. This traditional Northern Portuguese dish is brimming with flavour and is pleading for a wine that matches its intensity with tannins and acid.
Feijoada à Transmontana, recipe from portugueserecipes.ca
8 to 10 Servings
2 lbs of baby back ribs
2 lbs of chouriço sausage
1 lb of pork belly
1 cabbage, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 onions, minced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon of butter
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of cumin powder
32oz cans of cooked kidney beans
1/2 cup of crushed tomatoes
2 lbs of pork hocks
Directions: The night before cooking, coat the ribs with salt, wash the pig parts in cold water, salt them, and store in fridge overnight to absorb the salt. The next day, cook the pig parts in a large saucepan with 2 cups of water until they are soft and tender and set aside one cup of the broth. Now in a large saucepan cook the onions, garlic cloves, and bay leaf in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the ribs, pork belly, paprika and let them cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the 1 cup of the broth you set aside earlier from cooking the pig parts and let the ribs cook for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the meats, chopped cabbage, carrots, crushed tomatoes, and butter. Stir gently and let them cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Add the kidney beans and cook for another 15 minutes. Check if the meats are tender and done, let it simmer on low heat for a few more minutes.Once done, season with salt and pepper (to taste) and serve while hot.