Introducing Our Wine Expert, Sasha Smith!

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Our friend Sasha Smith, who has a great wine site of her own, Spin The Bottle, is going to pair wines with food52's recipes. We look forward to what she has to say, and we hope you'll have a chance to check out some of the wines she recommends. We'll let her take it from here...

First of all, thanks to Amanda and Merrill for welcoming me into the food52 community. I think of myself as a pretty good home cook, but your collective talent puts my skills to shame. I look forward to working my way through your recipes, and, if I feel brave enough, submitting a few of my own.

My more meaningful contribution to the site will be my thoughts on what I'm drinking. In blog and video form, I'll share some of my favorite wines and offer pairings to show off your hard work to best effect. (ENunn, I’m going to find a wine that goes with those Lemony Cream Cheese Pancakes with Blueberries if it kills me.)


One of my current obsessions is Dornfelder. Widely planted in Germany, it's not exactly a household name in the U.S. Happily, though, I've seen more and more of this grape variety lately. Dornfelder gives inky purple wines with peppery, floral, and earthy aromas and flavors that somehow manage to be hearty and refreshing at the same time. They’re delicious served a little cool – stick them in the fridge for 15 minutes or so before serving. These wines are great for anyone who cares about food because of their bright acidity. After all, it’s acidity that makes our mouths water and stimulates our appetites. They’re also great for anyone who’s recovering from holiday shopping binges: I have yet to see a Dornfelder that retails for more than $16.

The Weingut 2008 Schloss Mühlenhof comes in at $12, a great price for a wine with this much character. It's from the Rheinhessen, one of Germany's most dynamic wine regions. There's a ton of pepper, smoke, and earth on the nose, and more of the same – plus some strawberries and even a little orange rind – on the palate. This is a light-bodied, thirst-quenching wine with moderate alcohol and tannins, which makes it a great match for something salty with a little bite. (Wines that are high in alcohol and/or tannin amplify spicy food, and not in a good way.) That leads me in two equally delicious directions within the arsenal of food52 winners: either The Internet Cooking Princess's Andouille and Dijon Polenta, or the Prosciutto and Fontina Panini with Arugula Pesto by BigGirlPhoebz. Straightforward and satisfying, these recipes mirror the down-to-earth appeal of the Dornfelder, which offers a welcome little oasis of simplicity and sanity amidst the holiday madness. 

Note: if you can’t find this wine, or any Dornfelder for that matter, Shooting Star Lemberger from Washington State offers a similarly easy-drinking, easy-on-the-wallet experience.

Sasha Smith writes about wine and food on her website, spinthebottleny. In her spare time, she is the Executive Director of a New York based media company.



Tags: Wine