Fish in Parchment: Viognier or Sancerre?

Our final Viognier test will be with a light dish: fish in parchment.  Medium bodied Viognier or light bodied Sancerre; which will pair the best?

Match the body of the wine to the body of the dish

Match the body of the wine to the body of the dish

We’ve tried Viognier with heartier fare and spicy foods, now we’ll challenge it on the opposite side.

Medium body or light body?

Medium body or light body?

Matello Deux Vert Viognier 2010 ($28 from the Winery)
Eye: Nice rich yellow color, clear
Nose: Rich, waxy, flowers, but not buttery
Mouth: Rich mouthfeel, pit fruit, moderately low acidity.  So rich, it almost hints of sweetness, but it’s not sweet.  This wine is nicely balanced and doesn’t really need food, nice to just enjoy by itself.  Note, I enjoyed this wine even more when it had warmed up a bit, to just below room temperature.

Matello Viognier - my favorite in our Viognier series

Matello Viognier – a favorite in our Viognier series

Domaine Daulny Sancerre ($23 locally)
Eye: Very light, clear lemon yellow
Nose: Grassy with a bit of limestone.  No question, Sauvignon Blanc.
Mouth: Trim and tart with a medium light mouthfeel.  Very nice Sancerre!

Sancerre - Sauvignon Blanc from the village of Sancerre

Sancerre – Sauvignon Blanc from the village of Sancerre

Which Wine Proved the Better Match?
Both wines worked fine with the meal, but the Sancerre edged out the Viognier. The Matello Viognier texture was a bit rich with fish in parchment; it would have been perfect with fish in a cream or butter sauce.  The Sancerre’s lighter body was a perfect match to the delicacy of the fish in parchment.

Sancerre for a light fish in parchment

Sancerre for a light fish in parchment

Fish in Parchment
Ingredients – serves 4

  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 cup fennel bulb, julienned
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 Tbs Herbes de Provence
  • 8 basil leaves, rolled and sliced thinly into ribbons (chiffonade)
  • 2 Tbs parsley, minced
  • 2 roma tomatoes, cored, seeded & diced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 circles of parchment paper
  • 1 lb. cod or other firm fish filet, cut into 4 pieces
  • 8 oz. crab
  • 1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 400 deg. F
  • Sauté the shallots, garlic, fennel, red pepper, fresh & dried herbs in the olive oil over med-high heat, just until the shallots and fennel are clear and glossy.
  • Add the tomatoes and white wine and continue to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the veggie mixture to a plate or bowl.
  • Fold the parchment circles in half and reopen.  You’ll layer the ingredients toward the center of what will be the bottom half of the parchment
  • Start with the fish, then layer on a generous portion of the sauteed veggies, add a scoop of crab meat, and top with a garnish of some of the remaining fresh herbs.
  • Fold the parchment down and crimp over the edge tightly, a little at a time, starting at one corner.  Work your way all around the half-circle.  Some people like to brush on egg-white as a sort of glue.  I usually don’t bother.  Place the packets on a shallow pan and bake for 15 minutes.
Veggie prep and sauté

Veggie prep and sauté

Layer fish, veggies, and top with crab

Layer fish, veggies, and top with crab

After crimping around the edge, you pop it in the oven

After crimping around the edge, you pop it in the oven for 15 minutes.

Presentation
Presentation can take two forms:  you can place the finished packet on the plate.  The diner can cut their own packet open and enjoy the fresh just-released aroma.  This method does leave a bit of a mess with the parchment, however.

Dramatic opening at the table

Dramatic opening at the table

The second method has the cook open the packet and place the fish mixture carefully on the plate.  This method is neater, but lacks a little of the flourish of the previous style.  Your pick!

A little more polished, a little less dramatic

A little more polished, a little less dramatic

One final note, packets can be prepared several hours in advance and kept in the fridge.  The cook only needs to preheat the oven and pop in the packets. An elegant group dinner and so easy for the final steps.  Just remember to serve a lighter bodied wine!

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