If a pleasant pairing experience is what you seek, look about you: Michigan foods and Michigan wines are what you want to eat and drink together.
“What grows together goes together,” says Detroit-based sommelier Randall Coats, who educates consumers about wine and hosts events through his consultancy, Wine 4 Da Ppl.
To that end, we dreamed up a menu based on foods that are farmed, fished, and foraged here in Michigan. Then we asked wine experts for their pairing suggestions.
“We’re Michigan,” says Claudia Tyagi, a master sommelier. “We’ve got wonderful food and wine regions, so you may as well try to use them all.”
Appetizer: A Trio of Michigan Cheeses
Goat mini brie (Zingerman’s Creamery)
Raclette (Leelanau Cheese)
Idyll Pastures chèvre (Idyll Farms)
Pinot Grigio & Chardonnay (Bel Lago)
Tasting Notes: “It’s a dry yet softly fruity blend that’s very light and refreshing,” says Tyagi, who likes white wines with cheese.
Gamay (Hawthorne Vineyards)
Tasting Notes: “I prefer a lighter, more cheerful red wine that won’t overpower the cheeses,” Tyagi says.
Crémant of Michigan (Left Foot Charley)
Tasting Notes: “It’s effervescent with citrusy and bready notes that complement the creaminess of certain cheeses,” says Chuck Jackson Jr., a Detroit-based wine consultant and chair of the Michigan Wine Collaborative’s Inclusion and Expansion Committee.
Salad: Local Mixed Greens
Michigan is home to an abundance of greens, including arugula, purslane, sorrel, pea shoots, and mustard greens.
Mixtape (Big Little Wines)
Tasting Notes: This blend, Jackson says, “has a little bit of Gewürztraminer and spicy notes, which will … kick up with arugula.”
Entrée: Cedar-Plank Salmon
Make it at home: foodnetwork.com/recipes/cedar-plank-salmon-recipe-2013938.
Pinot Noir (Bel Lago) or Proprietor’s Reserve Pinot Noir (Chateau Chantal)
Tasting Notes: “Lighter-bodied Pinot Noirs aren’t too heavy for the salmon but are heavy enough to cut through its fattiness,” Jackson says.
Entrée: Pappardelle with Morels and Ramps
Toss morels and ramps with olive oil and Canton-based Mama Mucci’s pappardelle, which you can find at mamamuccispasta.com/pappardelle-dry.
Woodland White (Chateau Fontaine)
Tasting Notes: “This is such a real Michigan dish,” Tyagi says. “It’s my picture of what you can enjoy in Michigan, especially if you like foraging. Woodland White is a lovely complement to the morels, ramps, and pasta.”
Fascinator (Amoritas Vineyards)
Tasting Notes: “It’s a bone-dry Muscat,” Jackson says. “When you swirl this wine, the bouquet is really sweet and perfumy; it’s sweet on the nose but bone dry on the palate with a little bit of citrus.”
Entrée: Pan-Seared Venison Medallions
Tasting Notes: “You want to keep things light even though this is a full-flavored, woodsy dish,” Tyagi advises. Blaufränkisch, she adds, “would be just delightful and fruity.”
Entrée: Herb-Crusted Whitefish
Pinot Gris (Laurentide Winery)
Tasting Notes: “The wild-caught Lake Superior whitefish has a mineral note, and the clean flavor is enhanced by the herbed crust,” says Felipe Diaz, bar manager at Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, which serves this dish. “Pinot Gris brings a great citrus counterpoint, and the minerality in the wine’s finish echoes that of the fish.”
Dessert: Blueberry Tart
Make it at home: foodnetwork.com/recipes/valerie-bertinelli/blueberry-tart-3169891.
Tasting Notes: “A blueberry tart calls for something sparkling and sweet,” Tyagi says. “With the blueberry tart, Detroit would be refreshing and just the right little accent.”
Solera Cream Sherry (St. Julian Winery)
Tasting Notes: “It’s the perfect accompaniment to desserts,” Jackson says. “Because it’s a sherry and slightly oxidized, it’s not as sweet as some dessert wines.”
This article originally appeared in the 2023 Michigan Wine Country magazine.