Sacred and profane: a subversive Barolo pairing so wrong that it could only be right

Like the legend of the phoenix / All ends with beginnings.

Single-vineyard designate Barolo and steak tacos piled high with spicy guacamole and pico de gallo…

I almost feel guilty writing the above sentence and I apologize in advance to the Borgogno winery.

Night before last, Tracie was craving steak. And so I picked up a couple of New York strips (yes, we eat those in Texas, although rib-eye is our state’s official cut) and some fingerling potatoes.

And since a bottle of 2012 Barolo Liste had fallen out of a Slow Wine van as it left the building a few weeks ago (one of the perks of my gig with the Italy-American Chamber of Commerce), we figured it would be a fun way to kick off a quiet evening at home (dinner was followed by a screening of the new Star Wars episode.

The wine and pan-fired steaks were delicious. We drank half the bottle, knowing all the while that we would enjoy a glass of this superb single-vineyard expression of Nebbiolo for the next two, three, and even four nights (one of the wonders of large-cask aged Barolo).

Yesterday evening (night two), I diced the leftover steak for tacos. After the ziplock bagged meat has sat in the fridge over night, I love the way it becomes desiccated and tender. And I relish its aroma and texture once its been reheated — a teenage San Diego memory of late-night burritos de carne asada (a midnight run to Roberto’s, anyone?).

One of the many great things about living in Texas is that there is ready availability of freshly made guacamole and pico de gallo. After I gently heated the flour tortillas stuffed with beef, already sprinkled generously with shredded cheese, I generously add a dollop of each of the toppings.

By the time we sat down for dinner, the wine had evolved dramatically from the night before and its fruit was really beginning to show. But everything about this subversive — transgressive, I should say — pairing was wrong: the citrus and heat of the toppings were antithetical to the wine. Fortunately for me, the superb acidity in this old-school-style wine seemed to giddily rise to the occasion. It was one of the most satisfying meals of the month (so far… it ain’t over yet!).

What a great wine and — if I do say so myself — what a great pairing despite its unorthodox nature. It just all came together in an unexpected way.

Opening and pairing any bottle of wine is always a gamble, a roll of the dice. And last night Lady Luck seemed to smile on me.

In other news…

I recently discovered this excellent integrated Google map to the Barolo crus on Antonio Galloni’s Vinous portal. It has a wonderful overlay that guides the user through the implicit hierarchy of the single-vineyard designations (Liste, for example, is in the second-to-best tier (“outstanding”). You don’t need to be a subscriber to access (I love Vinous, btw, and highly recommend doing the subscription).

Buon weekend a tutti! Have a great weekend, ya’ll!

3 thoughts on “Sacred and profane: a subversive Barolo pairing so wrong that it could only be right

  1. Been there-done that! Once I had “leftovers” of a work day Damilano Cannubi, and a gorgeous In-And-Out double double was beautiful with it. Out of the ordinary, but it certainly worked! I must admit that I am a taco-holic and I have done the inevitable with Barbaresco as well.

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