We’re Toasting: Feast of the Seven Fishes with Pairings for Festivus

Originally published in “West Hawaii Today” December 21, 2017

Happy holidays! As you’re preparing for Festivus, with holiday dinner planning almost complete, consider creating a classic feast of the seven fishes celebrating the abundance of seafood and shellfish available here in Hawaii. And, to pair with each, seven wines that start light and finish robust, beginning with sparkling and ending with hearty, earthy red wine. Here are a few to consider, all available on Hawaii island.

To begin your feast, sparkling wine. Enjoy approachable, fresh Prosecco, like La Marca ($15), Zardetto ($20), or Adami ($21).

Or, splurge with 2011 Domaine Carneros Le Réve ($110), “The Dream” from Champagne Taittinger’s California property, opening with Meyer lemon and jasmine, followed by orchard fruit and Crème brûlée.

This dreamy sparkler will pair beautifully with salt cod croquettes, or flash fried calamari and shrimp.

Course two, fresh Ahi poke with a touch of soy, Hawaiian chile, cilantro and scallion with Chenin Blanc. The spice from the dish will balance the fruit and floral notes of the wine. Loire Valley’s Champlou Vouvray ($30), produced in a dry style while maintaining the grape’s sweet fruitiness, is ideal with poke.

Or, Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier ($18), adding stone fruit filled Viognier to the white flower notes of Chenin for a well-rounded, aromatic pairing.

For the third course, simply grilled or broiled white fish, like monchong, opah, or ono, with peppery arugula and lemon, melding with flinty, herbal Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre. Or, Napa Valley options, like favorites Cliff Lede ($30), Round Pond ($29), Priest Ranch ($28), or Spottswoode ($38), bursting with citrus, mineral and grassy notes.

Fourth course, lomi-lomi salmon, either fresh and salted or smoked, with poi and your favorite Rose. Though some think Rose is a summer-time only sipper, it is ideal all year, especially with this local favorite. Selections from Provence, filled with woody herbal thyme, sage, and lavender, like Triennes ($20) and Domaine Ott ($50), are perfect.

By the fifth course dishes and wines progress with savory, succulent flavors, like macadamia nut crusted mahi-mahi, with California Chardonnay balancing creamy, lemon curd, golden apple and barrel aged spice notes. The richness of the dish will meld into the richness of the wine, with the wine’s acidity ensuring brightness and freshness lingers on the palate. Chateau Montelena ($72), Frank Family ($35), Grgich Hills ($45), Duckhorn ($40), or Jordan ($40) will pair nicely.

Sixth, Mussels Fra Diavolo with Sangiovese, opting for an affordable Chianti Classico or decadent Brunello di Montalcino, giving a nod to the Italian history of this seven fishes feast. This dish of pasta with mussels in a spicy tomato sauce melds with the earthy Sangiovese for a classic Italian pair. Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva ($40) reveals the earthiness of the rolling Tuscan hillsides with leather and dusty forest floor notes, or expressive Fattoria La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino Riserva ($110) layers the earthiness of the variety with lilac, tobacco and sweet spice.

Seventh, lau lau with smoky, peppery, meaty Rhone or Rhone Style blend. From Spain, but using classic Rhone varieties, Cellers Can Blau ($25), from the Montsant region around Priorat, has earthiness and mineral intensity from the limestone, slate and clay soils of the vineyards. The dusty, forest floor and woody herb filled wine will enhance the pork in the classic dish.

If you are still hungry after all of this, put a tenderloin of beef on the grill and open your favorite bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Traditional Old World, like your favorite Bordeaux, to celebrated New World, like Napa Valley icons Cakebread ($105), Shafer ($130), Caymus ($105), Cardinale ($300) or Chateau Montelena ($105) will finish off this holiday feast with flair.



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