Renowned chef and cookbook author Joyce Goldstein excitedly applauds the new food craze of “melting pot cooking” and her experiments with Petite Sirah.
“Petite is a niche variety perfectly matched for this cuisine,” stated Goldstein at the Tenth Annual Petite Sirah Symposium. Concannon Vineyard, the first winery in the world to varietally label Petite Sirah, hosted this annual event for years, with Foppiano Vineyards having initiated it in 2002. I was the program director for all of the symposiums.
Each year it was designed to educate winemakers on how best to craft their Petite Sirahs and to also offer ways to entice chefs and consumers to become fans of this intriguing wine.
Darrell Corti of Corti Brothers in Sacramento recently said of Petite Sirah:
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How about a red grape varietal that signifies the Sacramento area? Petite sirah. How could this have happened? Petite sirah sells incredibly better than syrah and it wasn’t supposed to be like that. Petite sirah almost became extinct in California. It can be dense, inky and thick and unappealing. Curiously, in areas where people have (success) with it, like Clarksburg, the wine is not like that. There’s a certain lightness to the wine. I think the producers started looking at this wine [via the symposiums], which was used primarily for blending, and it was terrific for giving color, and realized it needs a lighter hand in making it.
What better way to educate winemakers and marketers about what pairs well with Petite Sirah, than to bring in someone with Joyce Goldstein’s credentials? A consultant to the restaurant and food industries, Joyce excels in recipe development, menu design, and staff training. She improves existing recipes, adds new ones to complement the menu, and works with a culinary staff to refine flavors and successful execution.
“Petite is ‘the’ consummate wine match for these new recipes,” was heard over and over again… Food, food, food… Flavor, flavor, flavor… Petite, Petite, Petite. “All the flavors that are in these dishes are the same exact flavors that describe your wines.” Hitch your pony to this star, was Goldstein’s basic assessment, and you’ll be well on your way. “Petite Sirah is not shy,” she explained. It has a lot of bigger and fruitier flavors, and she noticed some smoke with it. “I love to play with foods that have some smoky elements.” The clues, according to Goldstein, are for winemakers to look for these same spices in their wines that are also in food dishes with the same components; like clove, peppercorn, ginger, five spice powder, cumin, cocoa, currants, and cinnamon. The flavors that are in Petite Sirah are also in these melting pot dishes. She offered a plethora of dishes, while winemakers wrote feverishly.
Melting pot cooking is a craze that’s borne from multicultural diversity. It’s a phenomenon from a new generation of chefs who are experimenting with their families’ traditional recipes, and playing with flavors that are fun and creative by introducing alternative, ethnic twists. “Korean tacos are a great example,” stated Goldstein, at the symposium.
Another example of melting pot cooking is Concannon Vineyard’s Petite Sirah paired with a Cuban beef stew – Ropa Vieja – with California fusion. Petite Sirah braised flank steak with ground cumin and peppercorns among other spices and tasty ingredients, meld together perfectly with tomato sauce and beef broth in a slow cooker. (Full recipe available on www.ConcannonVineyard.com).
Winemakers learned that multiculturalism has become so dominant today that we’re seeing recipes pop up which we’d never expect to see. And, they’re all just begging for a wine that’s so completely diverse. What could be better than an immigrant wine that’s also multicultural: Persian derivation, European cross-fertilization (Syrah and Peloursin), and an American transplant?
This parallel is a perfect voyage describing not only Melting Pot Cooking, but also Petite Sirah. Joyce Goldstein’s message was “claim it and you’ll own it.”