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Everyday Wine Pairing: Girl Scout Cookies and Master Vintner

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Welcome to our first Everyday Wine Pairing, where we'll be matching wine to familiar foods. If you have any pairing questions, please send them to us here: info@mastervintner.com and we'll see if we can't find you a match from our cellars. 

What even is that? 

If you've ever read the copy for commercial wine, either from the back label or the advertising bumf on the shelves, you'll have seen an ad writers magical words about how the wine tastes and what foods would pair best with it. Sometimes the pairing suggestions are useful for normal people who live in normal places that have access to normal kinds of food, and you'll learn that the Chianti you're reading about will go swell with a pizza or firm cheese. Other times either the food pairings are absurd ("Perfect with filet mignon topped with sautéed Foie Gras, with a black truffle and white balsamic reduction") or they're absent, leaving you with a floofy wine description that leaves you confused as to whether it's a description of wine or a salutation to the muses--"Grass Creek Winery unites tasty acetone midtones and a cruel sushi aftertaste in their 2011 Pinot Noir."

Hmm. Make the mortgage payment, or buy a steak. Decisions, decisions. 

I've spent nearly thirty years writing tasting notes, but the levels of goofiness that some of them rise to have gotten so silly that there's even a mock tasting notes generator that let's you get into the spirit with one click. It's an amusing way to spend a few minutes, but leaves you no further ahead on how to pair real wine with real food. Enter, Girl Scout Cookies.

Why Girl Scout Cookies? 

AWe salute you too.

Good question: for over one hundred years the Girl Scouts have used cookie sales to fund excellent and wonderful programs to support their mission of making the world a better place. Even if you've never been a part of the Scout movement, it's easy to support something with so much positive influence on youth. 

Second, almost everyone has a box or two (or sixteen) around this time of year. Now, you could have a cookie with a cup of tea or a mug of coffee, but let's face it, there's nothing that wine can't make better, and properly paired up, Girl Scout Cookies are fantastic with the right wine. 

Basic Principles of Pairing

Wine's primary flavour characters are acidity, alcohol, tannin, and sugar--that's pretty much it. All of the other floof you read on a wine label is about the aromas, which don't influence how food will react with the wine your drinking. The objective in a superior pairing is either to complement or contrast between the wine and the food you're having with it. On the most basic level, you're finding the dominant character in a wine and looking for a food match that's either the same, or the compete opposite. 

  1. Acid works with sour, sweet (same and opposite), and salty--that's because acid occupies the same tastebud receptor space that salt does, and helps 'reset' your palate. 
  2. Sweet works with both sweet and sour, as well as salty
  3. Alcohol is subtle: it has its own sweetness, different from residual sugar. It also can intensify spiciness, and cut through fattiness. 
  4. Tannin matches with astringent foods (some fruits and spices) but also cuts through oily, fatty foods (like chocolate)

The Cookies, the Wine Pairing

Depending on where you are, the cookies might have slightly different names. If you want a full run-down on the cookie program, check out  the website. They list the ingredients and common allergens, and for the gluten-free set, there's even a cookie for you! 

We didn't pair up all of the available cookies the ones we had in the cupboard for, uh, research purposes. 

Shortbread

Buttery, crisp and less sweet than other cookies, this is a really versatile cookie. Playing off of the buttery character, I paired this up with Sommelier Select™ Chardonnay. The tropical fruit notes and crisp apple finish offset the cookie perfectly, and with judicious tweaking (sur lie, battonage and some layered oaking) this Chardonnay can fatten up to where even a tasty little cookie might take a back seat. 

Dosidos

Toasty oatmeal and creamy peanut butter need a delicate balance between fruit and tannin, to highlight the richness without overwhelming this crisp little cookie. For that purpose, Winemaker's Reserve™ Moscato is perfect, with restrained acidity and a lush allowing the nuttiness to play off the aromas of dried fruit, pineapple, white grape. Serve well-chilled for the best balance. 

Samoas

Caramel, coconut and a dash of chocolate, these are the best of all the Girl Scout cookies, hands down. The sweet richness might seem like a challenge for anything but dessert wine, but there's a great alternative to matching sweetness, and that's countering it with big fruit and firm tannin. Sommelier Select™ Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon not only has rock-ribbed tannins to stave off all that caramel and toasty coconut, it has lashings of dark fruit, blackberry and a bit of mint and cedar to pull out the best of the chocolate drizzle. 

Thin Mints

More like a candy bar than a cookie, Thin Mints are intense, deep and quite sweet. It takes a brutally big wine to stand up to them, and that brute is Sommelier Select™ Rosso Ardente. A traditional Italian blockbuster, this wine has tannins for days, dry cherry and almond notes, rather a lot of alcohol and a dense, structured finish that will tame this cookie from the first sip. 

Tagalongs

This cookie combines chocolate and peanut butter, playing off a nutty, rich smoothness. Sommelier Select™ Italian Nebbiolo has velvety, soft tannins, dry spicy notes and red berry fruit that will make each cookie taste even richer. 


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