For centuries, society has dictated drinking wines that match the foods we’re eating. Now, a completely new take on wine pairing is coming to SF with Parigo, the latest endeavor from the owners of the Barrel Room.
Parigo is a culinary experience that promises to expand guests’ horizons of what it means to pair food with wine. Every dish has four suggested pairings: two that complement, and two that contrast. The “contrast” pairing is designed to bring out new flavors in the dish.
What exactly does a contrast wine pairing mean? How does one avoid a train wreck of clashing flavors and tannins? It’s a fine line to walk, and one that requires the brainpower of wine whiz and owner Sarah Trubnick. For Trubnick, creating the complementary wine pairings came naturally. But concocting “contrast”-type pairings took about a month to perfect. To help her team test pairings, Trubnick actually developed an app matching ingredients to varietals.
One contrast on the menu is a salmon tartare paired with a 2016 Giornata Falanghina. The aromatic, orange-hued wine makes the salinity of the capers and salmon pop, leaving a finish of honeycomb on the palate. The Giornata Falanghina is an intriguing find. It’s a Paso Robles wine made using traditional Italian winemaking methods. The grapes are basket-pressed, aged in amphora, and left unfiltered and unfixed. Only 40 cases exist.
Another contrast pairing is veal tenderloin with a 2014 Le Colombier Vacqueyras Blanc. Vacqueyras blanc is a less-common blend that often includes Clairette, Grenache Blanc, and Marsanne. The “contrast” magic happens when the Vacqueyras’ mango and yellow peach aromas hit the veal’s meyer lemon and truffle cream flavors. This unleashes a new flavor akin to almost a candied apricot sauce finish.
Across the entire menu, one thing is clear: Trubnick is careful to avoid the conventional. The “complement” pairings could easily default to textbook food and wine pairings. But Trubnick and Chef Manny Hewitt go to extra lengths to source unexpected varietals and ingredients that combine in harmony.
For example, salmon and chardonnay is a classic “complement” wine pairing. But at Parigo, the “complement” is a delicate, perfectly-prepared steelhead trout atop roasted garlic hummus and avocado mousse, paired with a lemony, mineral-driven 2013 Tajinaste Listan Blanco.
Another clichéd restaurant dish: foie gras and Sauternes. At Parigo, foie gras is served with warm cookies and huckleberry jam, alongside a syrupy, slightly-oxidized 2014 Chateau Barrejat Madiran, or an earthy, slightly herbal 2015 boat ‘csontos’ furmint. Eating foie gras and cookies sounds like a sinfully indulgent experience — but trust us, it’s absolutely delicious.
Similar to its sister establishment, the Barrel Room, Parigo is a place to discover new wines. The wine list journeys into obscure varietals and emerging regions. Where else can you try the curious Viennese Orangetraube grape, a Spanish Baboso Negro, or find the coveted 2007 Château Musar blanc? Barrel Room fans can expect a few of Trubnick’s favorites at Parigo, but they will also find many new wines. “My wines are like my children,” says Trubnick. “I can’t pick one favorite.”
Feeling intimidated from all of the exotic varietals? Rest assured both Parigo’s staff and its wine list are incredibly approachable. Each dish comes with clearly-suggested pairings, making wine selection quite easy. And with the strong focus on the philosophy of food and wine, staff are happy to guide guests through the menu.
What’s next from Parigo? Expect a frequently-rotating menu of highly-seasonal dishes and wine pairings. Also coming soon are plans for a themed, three-course menu. To learn more or plan your next visit to Parigo, visit ParigoSF.com.