Perfect pairings from Charlotte chefs and mixologists
Photographs by Justin Driscoll
From bourbon to beer to sustainably sourced wine, Charlotte’s culinary professionals are creating far more complex food and drink combinations than the basic wine and cheese. We asked seven local chefs, mixologists and restaurateurs — culinary matchmakers, of sorts — to suggest a favorite fusion of flavors from their menus. The picks range from a casual date-night dinner to a more elevated dining experience.
Spinach balanzoni with wild boar sausage in a rich-yet-delicate cream sauce, paired with Nieto Senetiner 2017 Don Nicanor Malbec (Featured above)
“This malbec showcases dark fruit, such as plum, with hints of clove and leather that pair perfectly with game, such as wild boar. Aged in French oak for 12 months, a warm toast is present in the finish. Deeply complex but well-balanced acidity highlights the cream without overpowering the pasta dish.” — Beverage Manager Rebecca Feldman
Harissa-glazed pork belly with coconut-carrot puree, couscous and snap pea salad, paired with the Joffer Bird cocktail, a mix of sumac-infused Plantation rum, pineapple juice, Campari and lime
“This is the perfect pairing because the sweetness of the infused rum and pineapple juice is going to play well to the spicy glaze, while the acidity in the cocktail will help cut through all the fatty richness of the belly.” — Executive Chef Josh Oakley
Dilworth Tasting Room
Seared filet mignon over a sweet potato hash with truffled cabernet sauvignon reduction and roasted garlic and herb butter, paired with Trapan “Terra Mare” red wine.
“Dilworth Tasting Room’s background is based on Croatian influences, and trying to find many Croatian gems in North Carolina proves to be a challenge at times. One of the most consistent Croatian wines available is Trapan “Terra Mare” from Pula, made with 100% Teran grapes. When I enjoy a glass, it takes me back to lounging in the sun on the Adriatic coast enjoying charcuterie, Croatian olives and other locally created dishes.” — Owner Jaffer Kovic
Kampachi Tartare with truffle dashi, seaweed and yuzu complemented by a glass of Steininger Grüner Veltliner, from the Kamptal region of Austria
“The rich body of the wine matches the umami flavors in the dish coming from the truffle and bonito flake without overpowering them. The Grüner Veltliner also provides a brisk acidity to cut through the lush texture of the kampachi itself. A fruity and mineral profile balances the salty tang from the miso and tamari, and the intense kumquat citrus notes match the concentration of the yuzu gelee.” — Executive Chef Bill Greene
Good Food on Montford
Steamed bun with five-spice-rubbed pork belly, hoisin and pickled vegetables teamed with the Shipwrecked cocktail, made with Kraken rum, Tuaca, fresh lime, five-spice mandarin syrup and ginger beer
“Both the Shipwrecked cocktail and steamed bun include carrot and five spice, automatically complementing each other and creating a slight hint of sweetness. The bite of the alcohol cuts through the richness of the pork making it a perfect meal pairing.” — Chef Bruce Moffett
Paco’s Tacos & Tequila
“Criminal Combo” wood-grilled fajitas with the Filo Cortando — a mixture of Larceny bourbon, Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, muddled orange and blackberry agave.
“Mezcal mirrors the flavor of the smokiness of the fajitas, and the sweet pucker from the orange and blackberry cuts through the deep seared flavors of the meat and vegetables. Not to mention, one of the main ingredients in the Filo Cortando — Larceny bourbon — is named for literal theft, making them the perfect partners in crime.” — General Manager Sam Fugate
Legion Brewing SouthPark
Pimento Cheese and Potato Pierogies with local pork carnitas, pickled red onion and sour cream, paired with Slainte, an Irish dry stout with coffee notes and a touch of cocoa
“The caramelization on the outside of the pierogies as well as the crisp sweetness of the pork carnitas pairs perfectly with the deeper flavors of Slainte.” — Chef Gene Briggs