Tuna Niçoise, $28
With "art of steak" as its motto, you might expect me to order exactly that when dining at Prime 1000 for my Quite the Pair column. Surprise: I was inclined to go another way.
You're probably wondering why. We all have preferences when it comes to steak - cut, temperature, sauce, side item - and all of these factors play heavily into wine-pairing choices. So, I went light with the tuna niçoise.
Prime 1000 does not offer this in the salad form; this is a full on entrée. Sliced seared tuna lines the middle of the plate surrounding three styles of potatoes: puréed, baked wedges and chips.
Dried olives, an egg-based aïoli and sea beans (a somewhat unknown vegetable that falls somewhere between asparagus and seaweed) garnish the plate.
My initial thoughts going into the wine pairings were the flavor and weight of the tuna as well as the multitude of potato textures that resided on the plate.
Lucky Star Chardonnay, Calif., $7 by the glass
I was certain I was going to find more than one white that I wanted to pick, but in the end, it was only this Chardonnay that really stood out.
With a primarily stainless-steel fermentation process, the wine was allowed to become exactly what the grape represents: tropical with notes of apple and pear. The most interesting reaction in this combo was that the creaminess of the potato purée almost transformed the crisp Chardonnay into something a little rounder. What a fun observation of how food can change the texture of a wine.
Vinum Pinot Noir, Monterey, Calif., $8 by the glass
With the change of seasons, we often find ourselves craving a heavier, darker wine even with lighter dishes. I was pleased to see this easy-drinking, French-styled Pinot Noir on the list. From California, Vinum Cellars is known for a reserved hand in oak ageing and often produces light-bodied styles that still retain rich fruit flavors with hints of earth and spice. The super-soft tannins were perfect for the tuna, cutting through the meatiness but preserving the delicate nature of the fish.
Ayinger Ur-Weisse, Germany, $7 by the bottle (500ml)
The term Dunkelweizen doesn't easily roll off the tongue. But it's a style of beer I think most wine and beer lovers could get behind if they learned more about it.
Basically, it's a Bavarian-styled wheat beer, similar to a Hefeweizen, that's produced in a darker, more complex fashion.
Notes of banana and clove seem to be most prominent, and a well-balanced bitterness make it a great pairing brew. This beer brought out the sweetness of the tuna and enhanced the rich, whipped potatoes. The low alcohol and extremely faint hoppiness also contributed to the refreshing finish.
Prime 1000, 1000 Washington Ave., Downtown, 314.241.1000, prime1000.com
STLwinegirl Angela Ortmann gained a passion for all things epicurean by working in the luxury restaurants and hotels of St. Louis and San Francisco. Through her event and consultation business, she is dedicated to enhancing your food and wine experience.