If you love to entertain, there’s nothing more fun than whipping up a delicious recipe, finding the perfect wine to pair with it, and blowing your friends away with your flawless hosting skills! And if a solid wine pairing is essential for a memorable evening, then an unexpected pairing that none of your guests have ever experienced before is what truly takes a gathering to the next level.

But if your food and wine pairing strategy is pretty much limited to ‘red with meat, white with fish, pray that it works,’  it’s hard to think outside the box. Which is why you will want to take a tip from The Lush Life and trust the latest food pairing wine I’m obsessed with: port!

Pairing With Port

So first things first: let’s talk about port. Port is a fortified wine from Portugal (yep, port is from Portugal– which is a connection most of my friends hadn’t made… is your mind blown?).

Fonseca White Port

A fortified wine is one that has a neutral grape spirit (aka brandy) added to the wine during fermentation, which helps preserve it and also makes it a bit stronger than your standard table wine. The two most common styles of port are Ruby and Tawny, and they are traditionally served as dessert wines because they are rich, decadent, and sweet. When I traveled to Portugal I fell in love with these incredibly delicious wines; so much so that I wondered if I could find a way to enjoy them outside of a dessert or cheese course!

I was thrilled to discover two more styles that are ideal for pairing with savory dishes: white and rosé! Both of them are lighter, more refreshing, and drier than the other popular ports– and served chilled (or even with a twist of lemon and a few ice cubes), they are lovely as an apertif OR served alongside a meal.

I grabbed two of my favorites and tried out some recipe pairings that were both simply awesome. Try them out at your next dinner party and enjoy!

Port Pairing #1: Fonseca Siroco White Port with Warm Crab Dip

For years, I have sworn by this Food & Wine recipe for Warm Crab Dip with Fresh Herbs as my most crowd-pleasing appetizer! You can make it ahead and finish it in the oven right before people come over so that’s always a plus.

fonseca-crab-dip-pairing

I was inspired to pair it with Fonseca Siroco White Port when I remembered that to start the dip, the original recipe calls for sautéing shallots with butter and deglazing the pan with a splash of dry vermouth. I decided to swap out the vermouth for the white port instead– because it’s dry and aromatic with a nice hint of nuttiness that would add a wonderful complexity to the dip!

I love cooking with wine and then sipping that same wine with the dish; it’s just harmonious on the palate. White port traditionally drinks very well alongside seafood, so this delicate, fresh, and creamy crab dip is a natural choice for a delectable pairing.

Get the recipe here.

Port Pairing #2: Croft Pink Port with Spicy Shrimp Tacos

The original rosé port was created by legendary port producer Croft in 2008– since they were founded in 1588, it’s hard to believe it took them over 400 years to develop something so delightful! But it was definitely worth the wait: this port is juicy, tangy, and refreshing, with a hint of cherries and raspberries and a crisp finish. Croft Pink is wonderful when chilled, and since spicy foods pair well with wines that have a hint of sweetness, the wine definitely calls for a dish with a little heat. A spicy shrimp taco is a simple, casual, and satisfying pairing!

Croft-pink-paired-with-tacos

To make the tacos, saute shrimp with olive oil and chili lime seasoning to taste. Add some hot sauce if you really like to turn up the heat!

Serve with tortillas, red cabbage slaw, corn salsa, sliced radish and fresh cilantro. Top with a squeeze of fresh lime.


Creative direction, styling, and photography by Robyn Roberts

Author

Sarah is a professional sommelier based in Brooklyn who has proudly worked her way up from spit-bucket-emptier to Michelin-starred Wine Director since her very first winery gig in 2011. Certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, she has taught over 300 wine classes to date. She launched her site The Lush Life in 2014 to deliver fresh lifestyle content featuring wine and cocktails, entertaining how-to’s, and wine news her friends could actually use! She explores wine regions around the world, hosts events & create digital content on behalf of wineries and brands, and produces fun and interactive wine tastings for private groups. Her idea of ‘self-care’ is a solo Beyoncé dance party with a glass of rosé Champagne (try it, you’ll feel better!).

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