Wine pairing is both an art and a science—just ask a sommelier. It's important to seek a balance in the wine's components (fruit, acid, alcohol, sweetness, and tannin), and the food's overt and subtle qualities. A great wine pairing is about more than just flavor—texture, weight, structure, and bouquet of both wine and food also come into play. Monthly asked top tier restaurants on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton to recommend a wine to enjoy with some of their signature dishes.
OLD OYSTER FACTORY
Signature main course: Broiled Dayboat Scallops. Lightly breaded fresh jumbo scallops, broiled in garlic butter and sherry are served with risotto and vegetables, finished with diced tomatoes and lemon beurre blanc.
Wine pairing: Decoy Sauvignon Blanc. The light fruit flavors from a chilled bottle of the wine are a delicious complement to the brininess of the scallops. The lemon beurre blanc ties it all together.
ELA'S ON THE WATER
Signature main course: Pan seared diver scallops over crab risotto with truffle butter and crispy pancetta.
Wine pairing: 2016 Rombauer Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay, which complements seafood. From Carneros, California in the Napa Valley, this wine has enticing aromas of vanilla, melon, papaya and mango.
Signature main course: Grassfed burger with pimento cheese and green tomato chow chow on a Hawaiian roll.
Wine pairing: Pierre Rougon Rose. This wine has a powerful nose of strawberry and raspberry aromas that inspire a long finish with soft round tannins. Pierre Rougon farms 52 hectares in Beaumes de Venise, France, in the foothills of the Dentelles de Montmirail mountains.
DARREN CLARKE'S TAVERN
Signature main course: Beef Wellington of filet mignon, wild mushroom and black truffle duxelle, puff pastry, and black truffle jus.
Wine pairing: Bold and fresh aromas of bright red and black fruit are balanced by the earth of the black truffles. The unexpected acidity, produced by the long and almost perfect 2014 vintage, cuts beautifully through the fat from the filet and puff pastry.
Signature main course: Bistecca alla Fiorentina, the quintessential classic beef dish of Florence, Italy, is a 24-oz grilled porterhouse steak, dressed with fresh lemon, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil.
Wine pairing: Tignanello by Antinori. Known as the first true Super Tuscan, this wine is a very elegant and bold blend of Sangiovese, with minor components of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
Signature dessert: Flourless chocolate torte served over creme anglaise.
Wine pairing: Pave au Chocolat with Taylor Late Bottled Vintage Port 2011. This wine offers powerful dark cherry, black fruit and herbal aromas and flavors of depth and complexity. It pairs well with robust soft and hard cheeses, desserts made with chocolate, and fresh berries.
Signature main course: Pastrami Spiced Scottish Salmon. Rich and robust, salmon is an ideal partner for spices. Fingerlings, parsnips, cauliflower, arugula pistou and meyer lemon vinaigrette provide accent flavors.
Wine pairing: EnRoute Les Pommiers Pinot Noir. This pinot noir is light enough to pair with a fish dish and the subtle jam flavors from the wine perfectly balance the spice from the peppercorn and coriander.
THE FRENCH BAKERY & EUROPEAN CUISINE
Signature salad: Nicoise salad. Sesame-crusted Ahi tuna, grilled Roma tomatoes, grilled asparagus, zucchini and squash with soft boiled egg over arugula and spinach.
Wine pairing: Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses. This wine celebrates the Mediterranean art de vivre—it's big and fresh and fruity. The Languedoc appellation stretches along the Mediterranean coast from the Spanish border as far as the city of Nîmes, along the foothills of the Montagne Noire and the Cévennes.
Signature main course: Seafood Pot Pie. Wild caught American shrimp, sea scallops, fresh fish (catch of the day) and garden vegetables smothered in house made cream sauce. Topped with fluffy puff pastry crust and baked to a golden brown.
Wine pairing: Salty Dog Pinot Grigio from Napa Valley. Salty Dog Pinot Grigio has a floral nose. The crisp acidity with hints of pear, peach and lemongrass help cut the richness and flavors from the fresh seafood. The wine finishes clean and slightly dry with a trace of smoky spices left on the palate. The smooth, balanced taste pairs perfectly with the creamy white sauce while highlighting the bold seafood flavors and leaving the palate clean with every sip.