In O's January 2009 issue, Cathy Mantuano, wine consultant for the restaurant in the Art Institute of Chicago's new Modern Wing (opening Spring 2009), offers delicious recipes (created with her husband, Spiaggia chef Tony Mantuano) that highlight seven new pantry must-haves. Here are her wine pairings for each of those dishes, presented exclusively on Oprah.com.
1. Tuna-stuffed piquillo peppers
Pair with: 2007 Albarino, Adegas Morgadio, Rias Baixas, Spain
The lively acidity and mineral overtones in this Albarino—made with the namesake grape from Northwestern Spain—play off the sweetness of the peppers, the meatiness of the tuna, and the peppery cumin notes in this dish.
Recipe: Piquillo Peppers with Mediterranean Tuna Salad
2. Roast chicken with harissa
Pair with: 2007 Rueda Blanc "Las Brisas," Las Brisas, Spain
The relatively unknown Verdejo grape has grown in Rueda, Spain, for centuries and is the main component in this easy-to-drink, food-friendly white wine—a great match for spicy dishes like this one. Typically blended with Sauvignon Blanc and Viura (another indigenous Spanish grape), Rueda Blanc has aromas of apple and pear and flavors of bright green apple, sweet white peach, grapefruit, and lime.
Recipe: Roast Chicken Legs with Harissa and Couscous
3. Spaghetti with caper pesto
Pair with: 2006 Un-Oaked Chardonnay, Iron Horse Vineyards, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, California
Whole wheat pasta and caper pesto: an unusual combination, tailor-made for an unusual wine like this un-oaked California Chardonnay. One of the most pleasurable, elegant wines of its kind, Iron Horse's Chardonnay retains its brightness, minerality, and exotic fruit flavors thanks to the process of cold-fermentation in stainless steel. It's perfect with a variety of foods, including strongly flavored Mediterranean and pan-Asian dishes made with capers, olives, anchovies, lime, chilies, shellfish, and even cured meats.
Recipe: Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Caper Pesto Sauce
4. Chickpea and olive salad
Pair with: 2006 Pinot Noir, "Vintner's Cuvee" Van Duzer, Willamette Valley, Oregon
The sweet, salty, and spicy elements in this salad need a multifaceted wine, like this Pinot Noir from Van Duzer in Oregon. It has a wonderfully soft, velvety texture, strong notes of blackberry and currant, aromas of plum and gentle spice, and a long, persistent finish.
Recipe: Chickpea, Carrot, and Olive Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette