[Editor’s Note: We would like to introduce Troy Tucker to the Tablas Creek blog audience. Troy has worked in our tasting room for the past year while operating multiple wine endeavors of his own. One of those is as the proprietor of Terroir to You, a wine and pairing service that brings the restaurant pairing experience to your home. He’s always thinking of pairings to share, and we are grateful that these often include Tablas Creek. This is his first contribution in a planned series highlighting food pairings for the varietal bottlings of some of our obscure grapes.]
By Troy Tucker
A couple of weeks ago, I gathered anyone that would listen into the staff kitchen at Tablas Creek for a recipe experiment. I had been pondering a pairing between our 100% Terret Noir and Lebanese lamb meatballs and wanted to test it out on our team. The pairing, and the experience, worked out even better than I had imagined.
A room full of wine people sharing their thoughts on a wine and food pairing is, quite literally, my happy place. I wanted that moment to continue, so I thought I would share how this moment came to be.
It all began during a phone conversation, when a fellow advocate of wine asked me if I needed anything from Whole Foods. He was picking up ingredients to make lamb meatballs. At the time, I happened to be studying Northern Italian wines while drinking a 2018 Nebbiolo from the Langhe – and BOOM! It hit me! The wine nerd/foodie in me took over and I answered my friend, yes please, pick me up an extra pound of ground lamb also.
I began thinking about the structure of Nebbiolo and why it pairs so well with lamb: the wine has acidity that cuts through meat’s richness, tannins that the protein in the meat can attach to, and subtle notes of spice that often plays well with those used in lamb preparations. All I needed now was a way to bridge the fruit. Since Nebbiolo is known for its red-fruited profile, I rummaged through my cabinets for something, anything appropriate. Cranberry sauce was the winner.
I Googled a few lamb meatball recipes, finding this Lebanese style lamb meatballs recipe with cinnamon and allspice (there’s my spice bridge) that sounded delicious. (Author’s note: the recipe calls for 1 whole medium onion, this felt like too much, and in future renditions I stuck to ½ onion). After all was said and done, the pairing turned out to be absolutely incredible!
A few days later, I tasted one of the more obscure varieties from Tablas, the 2019 Tablas Creek Terret Noir. As soon as that wine touched my palate, comparisons to the Nebbiolo and lamb meatballs it paired so perfectly with started flashing through my mind. Like Nebbiolo, Terret Noir is red fruited, high-acid, and floral, with subtle spice and integrated tannin.
I took a bottle home to share and pair with another batch of Lebanese lamb meatballs. It turned out to be a trial with no error. A perfect match! My taste buds were in paradise and before I knew it, I was making another batch in the Tablas Creek kitchen. 😊