James Roth knows wines.
The owner of the Falls Church gourmet food and wine shop Red, White and Bleu gave up a career on Wall Street to pursue his passion for wine. He worked in wine auctions by day with elite libations and poured drinks on the other end of the spectrum for wine clubs by night.
Roth went on to open the local wine and cheese shop, which will be celebrating six year in business this summer.
As he has learned more about different styles of wine, Roth has embraced the challenge of pairing food and wine. Not just wine, but beer more recently has captured the imagination of pairing pros.
“Beer right now has reached a renaissance,” Roth said, adding that more and more unique microbreweries are launching.
The wine industry has changed right alongside the beer industry, Roth said, with new grapes being grown in new regions, and grapes being blended in nontraditional combinations.
“Both are constantly trying to stay dynamic and create new experiences to draw more people’s attention,” Roth said.
So when the News-Press asked him to select wines that reflect the character and cuisine of some favorite City restaurants, he was up to the task. In fact, he did us one better: He picked a wine and a beer to reflect four different restaurants taking part in our Restaurant Week.
The Bruery Rueuze ($28.99 for 750 ml)
2011 San Vito Chianti ($14.99)
Wine and Italian cuisine go hand-in-hand, so Roth chose a beer pairing for Argia’s that’s not unlike vino.
“It’s essentially the closest style of beer that reaches a wine experience,” Roth said of sour ales, beers that are fermented longer than usual. This particular style of beer has become very popular recently, Roth said.
Roth’s sour ale selection, the Rueuze, is an oak-barrel aged blend of Lambics, with savory notes of olive and sweet notes of apricots.
For his wine selection, Roth chose a Chianti with raspberry notes and some herby flavor.
“It pairs incredible well with tomato-based sauces,” Roth said. “It’s a classic pairing with Italian cuisine.”
Curry Mantra 2
DC Brau On the Wings of Armageddon ($4.16 for 12 ounces)
2012 Tooth and Nail The Fragrant Snare ($30.99)
Roth took his pairing inspiration from Curry Mantra 2’s namesake curries.
“When it comes to curries, curries and hops are a really good pairing,” Roth said.
He selected DC Brau’s limited-release double-IPA, which is hoppy with floral and citrus characteristics, because it’s a strong beer to match the strong impact of the spices in curries.
A Gewurztraminer pairs well with Asian cuisines, but Roth picked a white wine blend of Chardonnay, Muscat, Gewurztraminer, and Viognier – The Fragrant Snare – to match Curry Mantra 2’s cuisine.
“Instead of going with a solid Gewurztraminer, in this case using a blend of Viognier and Muscat for a touch of sweetness, it’s a fantastic blend that would pair well with some of the spicier dishes,” Roth said.
Hoang’s Grill & Sushi Bar
Maui Brewing Company Lemongrass Saison ($4.34 for 12 ounces)
2013 Cascinetta Vietti Moscato d’Asti ($19.99)
Roth picked the Lemongrass Saison in part because lemongrass is a common component of Vietnamese cuisine. And he picked a light saison to match the dishes found at Hoang’s.
“The cuisine itself is fairly light; you’re not talking about a steak-and-potatoes experience,” Roth said, adding that this selection would pair well with chicken and beef, but also seafood dishes.
For his wine pairing, Roth selected the off-dry, slightly sparkling Moscato, a wine with flower petal aromas and peach and nectarine notes.
“The floral notes of this particular grape and lightly spicy component of this wine will help with the spicy nature of Vietnamese cuisine,” Roth said.
Mad Fox Brewing Company
Schlafly Bière De Garde ($12.99 for 750 ml)
2009 Westerly Cabernet Sauvignon ($24.99)
For a beer pairing, Roth said that this brewpub makes its own perfect partner.
“Truthfully, any beer that they’re making is the perfect beer to go with them,” Roth said.
But, as Mad Fox doesn’t currently package its brews for retail, Roth selected a beer that he carries in his store.
He chose the toffee-sweet and spicy Bière De Garde saison because it’s “food-friendly,” he said, and would pair well with the richer dishes on the Mad Fox menu like its schnitzel or its burgers.
His wine selection, another rich drink, has big black-fruit flavors. This Cabernet Sauvignon is also currently on sale – it typically retails for $50, and his shop is now selling it for $25.