What We’re Drinking with Cooks

by Terry Thompson-Anderson • Photography by Whitney Martin

As with every issue of “Cooks,” we hope you discover some exciting new recipes to try. But what to drink and serve with them? We’ve put together a few pairing suggestions below to make the experimenting, supping and sipping experience a little easier.

Jim Spencer’s Tomato Soup
This quick and easy, but hearty and delicious, soup needs a wine that’s high in acid to stand up to the tomatoes, but also one that’s not overly tannic. Opt for a lighter red such as a sangiovese. Winemaker Kim McPherson has been working with this Tuscan classic varietal for more than a decade, and has developed it into an iconic Texas taste. The McPherson Cellars 2013 Sangiovese is a perfect fit.

Will Packwood’s Ragú alla Bolognese
A classic Italian dish deserves to be paired with a classic Italian wine with good acidity to match that of the sauce. Duchman Family Winery’s Montepulciano fits the bill. If a white wine is preferred, the Duchman Vermentino would be a nice match—especially since Packwood uses white wine in the sauce.

Terry Thompson-Anderson’s Seafood Gumbo
Should it be beer or wine? If you’re on the beer side, try Real Ale Brewing Company’s Brewhouse Brown Ale, a bold, bock-style beer that can stand up to the gumbo’s complex flavors. For those who prefer wine, the selection needs to be as full-bodied and enigmatic as the dark, brooding stew. With its chewy characteristics and dark berry nuances, the Perissos Vineyard 2012 Petite Sirah is a perfect choice.

Caroline Hahm’s Bulgogi
You might try pairing this intensely flavored Korean dish with Austin Beerworks’ hearty and palate-refreshing Peacemaker. For wine drinkers, it gets a little more challenging. Look for a wine that’s not too earthy or full-bodied, and avoid wines with heavy tannins. Llano Estacado 2012 Cellar Reserve Tempranillo is a good choice. It’s 79 percent tempranillo and 21 percent Mourvèdre, which gives it a gentle, slightly sweet red fruit, medium acid and great balance to support the umami and delicious fattiness of the dish.

Ben Runkle and Natalie Davis’ Kibbeh
Because of the distinct earthy flavors of lamb in kibbeh, a wine with equally earthy notes is needed. Kiepersol Estates 2011 Syrah, with its nose of dried figs and enticing palate of anise and spice, blueberry, toast, sweet tobacco, blackberry and dried plum is, hands-down, an ideal match.

Chief Art Acevedo’s Cuban Salad and Steak 
Normally, pairing a single wine with a salad and a meaty entrée such as steak poses problems, because the usually acidic salad dressing demands a high-acid wine while the entrée does not. But since this salad contains no vinegar, the pairing becomes easier. A well-grilled, aged rib-eye steak begs for a big, bold red wine, and the Texas Hills Vineyards 2012 Kick Butt Cab is a superlative choice: The supple tannins and rich, jammy berry flavors, along with the undertones of earthy, Texas limestone minerality, will make that steak dance. Of course, you could always take Chief Art’s suggestion and pair this dish with one of his refreshing mojitos instead.