Challenging Wine Pairing: Halibut Cheeks

By LaGayle ~ June 15th, 2010.

Halibut is the fish of choice in our family, so when I learned about halibut cheeks, I could not resist giving them a try. The cheek meat is located behind the eyes and jaws and is thought to be the most tender and flavorful part of the fish. Halibut cheeks are considered an Alaskan gourmet treat, and some people compare them to sea scallops or even lobster depending on how they are prepared.

For this challenging wine pairing, I served the halibut cheeks with drawn butter and the meal included a fresh green salad, creamy polenta, and grilled mixed vegetables. The cheeks were a real treat and were very easy to prepare.

Referring to my favorite book, What to Drink with What You Eat, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, I decided to pair the meal with a White Burgundy and a Pinot Noir. When possible, we like to make these challenging wine pairings even more interesting by trying one Old World wine and one New World wine and sometimes go so far as comparing one white and one red. Most people automatically think white wine when they are serving fish, so we thought it would be fun to give a lighter, food-friendly red a chance as well. For this challenge, I selected the 2008 Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse (100% Chardonnay) from the Burgundy region of France and the 2008 Owen Roe Sharecropper’s Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

These are both very good, food-friendly wines. However, all four of us Wine Peeps gave a slight edge to the White Burgundy without food and thought that it paired the best with our halibut cheeks as well. That said, we look forward to trying this Pinot Noir again with another meal. And, best of all, both wines received a QPR rating of 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5).

We have a lot of fun with these challenging wine pairings so I encourage you to try your own challenging pairings at home. Also, we would love for you to suggest challenging wine pairing meals for us to try in the future.

Bon Appétit!

2008 Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse (Pouilly Fuisse, Burgundy, France): 100% Chardonnay. Pale to medium, straw yellow in color. Very aromatic with minerally and lemon aromas leading to lemon zest and more citrus notes on the palate. Medium-bodied with lively acidity. Well-balanced and refreshing with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle, Washington), $26.79; Available elsewhere, $18 to $26

2008 Owen Roe Sharecropper’s Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon): Medium-deep, ruby red. Aromatic with red fruits, smoke, and bacon on the nose; red cherries, raspberries, and smoke on the palate. Medium-bodied and very smooth with low to medium, soft tannins and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle, Washington), $22.99; Available elsewhere, $20 to $35

Filed under: American Wine, Challenging Wine Pairing, Chardonnay, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Food & Wine, French Wine, Oregon Wine, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, White Wine, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. stevie | June 15th, 2010 at 8:56 am

    I think that red wine goes marvelously well with fish. Thanks for your comments on this! People can get so uptight about the old dogma “white with fish.” For heaven’s sake, we’re in the 21st Century already!

  2. Kori | June 17th, 2010 at 11:45 am

    You are exactly right. There are many wonderful pairings out there if you are willing to experiment. Cheers!

  3. John | June 21st, 2010 at 8:54 am

    LaGayle did it again with a great meal and pairing. Thanks!