Cooking With Rocco: White Wine

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White wine is simple, elegant, and delicious. We drink it at lunch, dinner and as a default cocktail all the time, especially with the onset of balmy spring weather.

White wine can be the perfect companion for so many great moments in life -- the moments that we share with people we care about. But white wine was meant to be more than just what you drink when you don't know what else to drink.

Choosing the right white wine can be a bit tricky. For example, choosing a chardonnay over a pinot gris can completely change the texture and flavor of a meal. A heavy, high-alcohol, oaky white can overwhelm the flavor of a dish, while an aromatic fruity white with good acidity can elevate a dish to a whole new level of pleasure, a truly ethereal match. Believe it or not, the wine can change the temperature of the moment.

Below is a perfect white-wine pairing with an original recipe. It comes from my James Beard Award-winning book Flavor, and it is indeed transcendent.

Don't get too caught up with the challenge of matching wines to food and the anxiety that comes with it. Here, I have done the work for you. Think of these parings as a good friend, someone you want to be around and have a laugh with. OK, feeling relaxed now?

Let's talk about our first wine: It's a Riesling Kabinett. Whether from Alsace, France, or Germany, this wine is light, somewhat sweet, but still quite refreshing due to the balanced acidity. It's clean on the palate and pairs well with food. In fact, I consider it a food wine.

Another nice thing about Rieslings in general is that they are low in alcohol, usually about 9%. This means you can enjoy it with abandon. And be sure to serve it chilled -- between 45 degrees and 50 degrees is ideal.

Go with a recent vintage when buying this wine. They don't benefit from aging the way chardonnays do. Oh, and by the way, they are reasonably priced: Thirty dollars in the world of Riesling will more than get you there. Some of my favorites are produced by Germany's Graff and Heyl, as well as Austria's Hopler.

Now you have your wine -- how about a quick, tasty dish to go with it? My Miso Chicken will pair perfectly with this aromatic choice. Be prepared to impress your friends!

Quick Miso Chicken

  • 4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons medium-colored miso
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

1. Place chicken breasts between two pieces of wax paper and pound thin with a mallet.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together miso and orange marmalade. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and brush all over with marinade. Let stand for 30 minutes.

3. Warm oil in a nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chicken. Cook on first side for 3 minutes, flip, baste tops with any remaining marinade, cook on second side for 3 minutes more or until meat is no longer pink. Flip, cook 15 seconds and transfer to plates. Serve.

For more info on Rocco DiSpirito, please visit roccodispirito.com or click here to find his cookbooks.

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